Gareth Southgate receives ‘magnificent’ Aston Villa recommendation from England legend

Gareth Southgate has been advised by Alan Shearer to play Ollie Watkins.Gareth Southgate has been advised by Alan Shearer to play Ollie Watkins.
Gareth Southgate has been advised by Alan Shearer to play Ollie Watkins. | Getty Images
England legend Alan Shearer has directed a message to Gareth Southgate about Aston Villa star Ollie Watkins.

Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins must be one of the first on the plane with England for this summer's EURO 2024 in Germany, claims Three Lions icon Alan Shearer.

The former Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers forward, who holds the all-time Premier League goalscoring record with 260, believes Watkins simply cannot be overlooked by England manager Gareth Southgate. Villa's number 11 has recorded an outstanding 16 goals and 10 assists in 27 Premier League appearances this campaign, with a further five goals scored across other competitions.

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Harry Kane, with 31 goals and eight assists in 32 games across all competitions for Bayern Munich, is the only English player with more direct goal involvements throughout 2023/24. It's tricky for Watkins with captain Kane as the first name on the team sheet but Southgate might have to find a way of fielding both at once.

If it was up to Shearer, Watkins would probably be in the XI. "He's having the season of his life. He's in the form where, as a forward, you go out on the pitch, not hoping to score, you are expecting to score. That is a great feeling to have," Shearer told Match of the Day.

Watkins' performance away at Luton Town, as Villa ran out 3-2 victors, was particularly impressive. The 28-year-old scored the first two goals of the game, sending Unai Emery's men on their way for an important three points in the UEFA Champions League fight. Shearer was watching closely and he analysed Watkins' display in great detail.

Watkins netted a brace away at Luton on Saturday.Watkins netted a brace away at Luton on Saturday.
Watkins netted a brace away at Luton on Saturday. | Getty Images

"From start to finish, he ran the Luton defence ragged. That was the sign, I am going to run in behind and I am going to run you and run you again, that’s exactly what he did. He scored from a corner that he got. Free in the box, no one with him. It’s a good ball in, he attacks it really well and it’s a wonderful header. His hold-up play and link-up play was excellent also. Every part of his game, I thought, was magnificent," Shearer said. 

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Looking at Watkins' second goal, Shearer added: “Just have a look at this touch with his left foot, the way he puts in perfectly onto his right foot. He then has the full view of the goal and can whip it past the goalkeeper. That is incredible, the touch and finish is just sublime – he is just having fun out there – and he also plays a part in his winning goal.

“It's his best season. 16 goals? Incredible – he’s on the plane. His bags are packed, he has got his boarding pass, the lot," Shearer continued.

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