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Steven Gerrard backs Ollie Watkins to recall England team

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Aston Villa Boss Steven Gerrard back Ollie Watkins back England formation.

The striker has impressed Gerrard during his short stint at the helm, scoring twice in Gerrard’s first three games as manager, against Brighton last month and City of Manchester in the middle of the week.

Gerrard reckons the 25-year-old’s performance against the Premier League champions on Wednesday night was his best since he took over at Villa Park three weeks ago.

Ollie Watkins, left, scores against Manchester City (Bradley Collyer/PA)

(PA wire)

Watkins was most recently dropped from the England squad a month ago but he believes Gareth Southgate will pick him up again if he continues to perform for Villa.

“Listen, I think in situations like this you let the football do the talking, and Ollie certainly did that in the first three games with me,” Gerrard said.

“Manchester City was probably his strongest performance. I think he really took possession of two of Manchester City’s defenders the whole game – he looked strong, he looked strong, his retention was fantastic. He scored a great goal, that was only half a real chance.

“It has been a pleasure working with him for three weeks and I am looking forward to the future. I’m very happy to have him here.

“Ollie has just got to be the best he can be for Aston Villa and I’m sure that will be enough for him to return to the England team and I’m sure Gareth Southgate will be watching him very closely.

“But the best thing you can do to get into England teams is to be consistent and give your all for your club, and Ollie is certainly doing that.”

Watkins will look to continue his form on Sunday when Villa take on midfield rivals Leicester.

The Foxes, managed by Gerrard’s former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers to Villa Park with just one win in their last five Premier League matches.

“You have to respect the challenge,” Gerrard said. Brendan performed very well at Leicester and we know they have very dangerous players.

“We knew we would have to control four or five fronts, depending on how they set up. We need to keep their main threats as quiet as possible.

“That will require hard work, organization and people really rolling up their sleeves to defend our cause.

“We know we have talent and we know we have the quality in our team to hurt any team. We proved that in the opening weeks, they proved it before I even got in the door.

“We will try to keep a clean sheet, knowing we have players who can hurt Leicester.”

Leon Bailey faces another spell on the sidelines (Adam Davy/PA)

(PA wire)

Villa suffered a pre-match injury with news that Leon Bailey will be out for “a couple of weeks”.

The 24-year-old striker, signed from Bayer Leverkusen this summer for a reported fee of £30m by former manager Dean Smith, limped off with what looked like a thigh problem after half an hour. Meet Man City.

An unspecified injury has sidelined Danny Ings recently but the striker is back on track and a decision on his fitness will be made on Saturday.

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/steven-gerrard-england-aston-villa-manchester-city-brendan-rodgers-b1969755.html Steven Gerrard backs Ollie Watkins to recall England team

JACLYN DIAZ

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