The Three Lions striker has had quite the influence on forwards across the country due to the way he plays and his professionalism

Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins admits he was surprised to be called up by Gareth Southgate for England and revealed that he has been trying to emulate Harry Kane’s fitness regime.

Like Watkins, Kane built his career in the lower leagues but now he ranks among the world’s best strikers and he will captain England at the upcoming European Championship.

The Villa striker started even lower down the pyramid playing in non-league at Weston Super Mare before joining Exeter, then Brentford where he met England coach Ben Young, who gave him advice that he learned from working with Kane. Three years on, the 25-year-old has joined the star striker in the England squad.

What did Watkins say?

“I am excited to be here,” Watkins said at the FA press conference on Tuesday. “To be honest, I didn’t really expect to be called up. A few of us got a text and I got mine after having a bit of a stinker at Newcastle away so I didn’t expect it. When I did find out, I was over the moon.

“Looking back, it has been a bit of a journey but a great journey. I had some tough times along the way but also some great ones. I was speaking to the strength and conditioning coach here, Ben, about three and a half years ago when I was at Brentford about what Harry Kane’s routine is like and three years later, I am here training with him.

“It is a bit of a shock but enjoyable as well. I was just asking how he trains, what he does and how he looks after himself. Just to get some inside knowledge on how he works.

“He has everything really so he is someone I can learn off and see how he works on a day to day basis. If you get advice like that, you can take it into your game. I take small percentages like that and hope they add up eventually.”

Why was Watkins selected?

Three Lions boss Southgate has admitted that it wasn’t an easy call to choose between both Watkins and Patrick Bamford ahead of World Cup qualifying games against San Marino, Albania and Poland.

“It was very close. We are really pleased with Harry [Kane] and Dominic Calvert-Lewin,” Southgate said at the unveiling of the squad. “Tammy Abraham has not really been involved with Chelsea over the last four to six weeks.

“Ollie and Patrick have had good goals records. We like the personality of both.”

Watkins ranks in the Premier League’s top 10 scorers and he has managed 12 goals and three assists in 31 games. One of his season highlights was a hat-trick against Liverpool and star defender Virgil van Dijk.

“One of the lads I used to play with [at Weston Super Mare] messaged me before Liverpool and said, ‘all the best against Van Dijk today, mate’,” Watkins said. “Yes, I know and a couple of months later, I came off the pitch and scored a hat-trick and I said, ‘that went well, didn’t it?’

“I spent a lot of time at Weston Super Mare and it played a big part of my development to play men’s football on loan. I realised how much senior football meant to people who had kids to feed and mortgages to pay. It definitely gave me a switch in my mentality. I think it was a massive key to my development.”

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