Daily Express

Watkins: I’ve been working so hard for my European dream

- By Neil Moxley

OLLIE WATKINS says he will kick on next season but first he wants a crack at the Euros.

Watkins helped resurgent Aston Villa qualify for the Champions League with 19 Premier League goals.

He was also awarded the Playmaker of the Year prize for 13 assists.

But Watkins failed to become Villa’s first striker since Peter Withe in 1981 to break the 20-goal barrier.

After his side’s 5-0 rout by Crystal Palace on Sunday, he said: “Next year will be very special.

“What happened at Palace was poor – individual­ly and collective­ly – but this doesn’t tell the story of our season. We have been great all year.

“On a personal note, I’ve been consistent. It was the aim to get to 20 goals.

“I wasn’t surprised by how well I’ve done, because of all the hard work I’ve put in.

“And next season will be better, I’m sure of that.”

Watkins, 28, has been around Gareth Southgate’s squad for three years and is one of skipper Harry Kane’s understudi­es.

The Villa star added: “Whenever you score goals, and things go your way, there is noise around it.

“It is hard to ignore that. I want to play in the Euros.

“There aren’t too many English strikers in the Premier League.There are a lot of wingers but not many centre-forwards, so I’m hopeful.

“It’s what I have been working hard towards.We’ll have to wait and see.”

By addressing questions about his prospects next season, the forward did not indicate that he had eyes for anything other than a future at Villa.

There has been speculatio­n that he is a target for Manchester United.

But, having agreed a new five-year deal, he will be expensive to prise away.

Watkins sees more teams contending next term.

He said: “People say Chelsea have had a bad year but I don’t think they have.

“They’ll be even stronger.The new manager at Crystal Palace has them firing. Tottenham are up there.We know next season will be difficult and we must be ready.”

 ?? ?? WATKINS: Hoping to get in Euros squad
WATKINS: Hoping to get in Euros squad
 ?? ?? The UEFA EURO 2024 Official Tournament Magazine includes a big interview with Gareth Southgate, plus team profiles, quizzes, venue guides and a FREE giant wallchart. On sale now from reachsport­shop.com
The UEFA EURO 2024 Official Tournament Magazine includes a big interview with Gareth Southgate, plus team profiles, quizzes, venue guides and a FREE giant wallchart. On sale now from reachsport­shop.com

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