Express & Star

Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins could earn a recall to England squad

Callum Wilson and Ollie Watkins could be in line for an England recall as boss Gareth Southgate waits on Jude Bellingham’s fitness.


Newcastle striker Wilson has scored 11 goals since he was overlooked for the European Championship qualifying wins against Italy and Ukraine in March.

Southgate today names his squad for the Euro 2024 qualifiers in Malta on June 16 and at home to North Macedonia in Manchester on June 19, with England top of Group C.

Wilson has helped spearhead the Magpies’ top-four charge and they confirmed their return to the Champions League after 20 years with Monday’s 0-0 draw against Leicester.

The 31-year-old went to the World Cup in Qatar but scored just once in 13 games after the season resumed, prompting Southgate to leave him out.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has previously backed his striker for a recall. He said: “It’s one for Gareth, but he is certainly doing the right things, scoring goals. That is always going to get you the headlines. He is certainly in great form. I don’t know if it is his best.

“But I think he is very focused at the moment and he knows he has to be. I think the biggest compliment I can pay him is that, whatever situation he’s been in, he’s still been himself, laughing, smiling, joking.

“He is a really positive character. He’s somebody that the squad needs to be positive because he’s such a big personality within it.”

There is a spot available after Ivan Toney’s eight-month ban for betting offences was confirmed this month.

The Brentford striker made his debut as a late substitute in the 2-0 win over Ukraine but will be unable to play competitively again until January.

Villa’s Watkins missed out on a call-up last time and will come into Southgate’s thoughts again.

Watkins has 15 goals this season, although he has not scored in his last six outings and missed a penalty in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Liverpool. Stourbridge-born Bellingham missed Borussia Dortmund’s 3-0 win at Augsburg on Sunday with a knee problem he suffered in the 5-2 win over Borussia Monchengladbach and is a doubt for Saturday’s final game against Mainz.

Dortmund are two points clear of Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga, hunting their first title since 2012.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is almost certain of a return after his improved form for Liverpool and with Reece James’ season having been ended by a hamstring injury in April.

Marcus Rashford is expected to be fit after injury and illness this month and Raheem Sterling could be recalled after being injured in March, while Morgan Gibbs-White’s form, which has helped Nottingham Forest stay in the Premier League, makes him an option for Southgate.

Ben Chilwell has a hamstring injury, which could open the door for Arsenal’s Ben White to return, while Chelsea team-mate Mason Mount had surgery on a pelvic injury last month and is unlikely to be risked.