Express & Star

England dream keeps fire burning for Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins

Unai Emery believes the desire to become an England regular is pushing Ollie Watkins to new heights at Villa.


Watkins took his tally to the season to 24 goals in all competitions with last Saturday’s brace against Brentford.

But the 28-year-old is not yet guaranteed a place in Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2024 squad and Emery thinks that ambition, together with firing Villa to success in the Premier League and Europe, has helped fuel Watkins’ improvement.

Villa host Lille in a Europa Conference League quarter-final on Thursday and Emery said: “Ollie has been fantastic. His performances, fantastic.

“He is very involved in the new demands we have as a club. His processes are getting better, his attitude every day, his wishes to get something collectively and individually is very important for his career.

“To be in the national team, to be one of the best scorers in the Premier League. This is his motivation every day.

“And to get it, to achieve it, is through hard work. Saturday was one step ahead more in his increasing the level.”

Watkins, who has 18 Premier League goals, needs just two more to become the first Villa player since Peter Withe in 1981 to hit 20 in a top flight campaign.