Express & Star

Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins looks likely to be in England's 26-man squad for Euros

Villa striker Ollie Watkins looks to be set for a place with England at this summer’s European Championships – with Uefa set to agree an increase to 26-man squads.


The tournament was set to revert to pre-Covid squad size of 23 players but Uefa now appears set to agree to stick with 26, a number first allowed at the pandemic-delayed Euro 2020 tournament.

That looks likely to guarantee a place for Villa top-scorer Watkins with England likely now to take three strikers in their squad.

It had been previously thought Watkins and Brentford’s Ivan Toney were set for a straight shootout to go as back-up to England skipper Harry Kane.

Watkins has been in stellar form for Villa this season, already notching 19 Premier League goals, and 26 in all competitions, as well as 12 assists.

He needs one more Premier League strike to become the first Villa striker since Peter Withe to record 20 top-flight goals in a season.

Uefa’s ruling executive committee could rubberstamp the 26-man squad proposal this week, it is believed.

Keeping squads at 26 players also received the backing of national team coaches at a pre-tournament workshop earlier this month.

At the end of that workshop, Uefa released a statement which read: “The positive discussions highlighted different points of view among coaches, with some expressing a desire to increase the squad size, with more choice available, the threat of injuries and the intense physical demands placed upon players.

“Others stated their preference to cap the squad size at 23, pointing out the difficulty in training with additional players, group management and the increased financial burdens placed upon national associations.

“Uefa has taken note of the various opinions and points of view shared, with a final decision to be made in the coming weeks.”

Euro 2024 gets under way on June 14 when hosts Germany face Steve Clarke’s Scotland in Munich.