Express & Star

Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins is ‘demanding more of himself every day’

Unai Emery backed Ollie Watkins to keep getting better after the Villa striker boosted his chances of an England recall by scoring in yesterday’s draw at West Ham.


Watkins’ strike was his sixth in the last seven Premier League matches and he must now wait to discover whether he has done enough to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s squad for European Championship qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine later this month.

Emery is delighted with the 27-year-old’s form for Villa and believes dedication on the training pitch can help him maintain it.

“Hopefully he can continue (scoring),” said the Villa boss. “He is very competitive, practicing every day trying to learn and do more work than the team is demanding.

“He is watching individual videos, working on his movement in the box. He has the spirit to improve, being demanding of himself every day.

“We have to help him in terms of getting the ball into the box. He is also helping the team defensively. He is the first one trying to stop the opposition and is doing a competitive job.

“I am being demanding with him. Trying to improve in the small spaces, to move better. Trying to be in the box and being more efficient.

“His movement and comfort with the ball, that is his improvement, where he can add to his performance. He is demanding and critical of himself, listening a lot to everything we are saying.”

Watkins’ goal was not enough for Villa to claim a win as they were pegged back by Said Benrahma’s contentious penalty.

Benrahma had chances to win it for the Hammers, but Villa also went close again through Watkins and substitute Jhon Duran.

Emery, who saw his team remain 11th in the table, claimed to be satisfied with the point. He said: “West Ham are a very good team, playing today under pressure to escape the bottom of the table.

“I played here once before and lost. Villa also lost here the last time they played. We know how difficult it is.

“There were a lot of good things we did and other things we have to improve on but the result is positive. We had two options before the match.

“One was to escape the bottom of the table definitively, by winning the match. The draw does not do that but we maintain the distance with West Ham.”