Ashley Young admits surprise at seeing Olly Watkins omitted from England squad
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Aston Villa defender Ashley Young has spoken of his surprise in seeing red-hot Villa teammate Ollie Watkins left out of Gareth Southgate's England squad for the upcoming international break.
Watkins - who has been one of the form forwards in the Premier League since competition returned following the World Cup break - has been left out of Gareth Southgate's squad for the upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine.
Despite scoring seven goals in 11 appearances post-Qatar, Southgate has opted against including the 27-year-old in his travelling party, instead opting for Harry Kane, Ivan Toney and Marcus Rashford as his recognised centre forwards.
Speaking to talkSPORT, Watkins Villa teammate Ashley Young spoke of his surprise at seeing the forward omitted from Southgate's squad:
"To be honest, I was surprised that he wasn’t included in the squad with how well he’s been doing and how he’s been playing.
“I think he had five in five up until the other day. He’s full of confidence, full of goals and he brings quality in abundance to the team.
“We’re happy that we’ve got him here. Hopefully this week he can rest up and be firing and ready for the final push from now to the end of the season.”
Watkins has made seven appearances for the Three Lions during his career so far but is without an appearance since scoring against Ivory Coast in an international friendly back in March 2022.
Ashley Young on Ollie Watkins via @TSBreakfast: "To be honest, I was surprised he wasn't included in [England] squad. It was 5 in 5 up until the other day. For a striker, he's full of confidence, full of goals. He brings quality in abundance. We're happy we've got him here." pic.twitter.com/evXgCY7bM2— Ashley Preece (@PreeceObserver) March 22, 2023
The Aston Villa man enjoyed the perfect start to life as an England international, scoring with his very first shot as England cruised to a 5-0 victory over San Marino in a World Cup qualifier back in 2021.
The former Exeter City man gave an emotional interview to ITV Sport following the game, discussing his rapid rise from League Two football to turning out for his country at Wembley Stadium.
Despite the international disappointment, there is still plenty to play for as far as Watkins, Young and Villa are concerned. Unai Emery's side currently sits in 11th place in the Premier League table and still harbours hopes of securing European football for the 2023/24 campaign.
England will take on Italy in Naples on Thursday, March 24th before heading back to London to take on Ukraine at Wembley on Sunday, March 26th.