By Pete Hanson

13th Oct, 2023 | 9:40pm

'Frustration' to 'predatory' as Aston Villa ace Ollie Watkins rewarded for toil in 64% England showing

Aston Villa ace Ollie Watkins was able to complete a memorable week by celebrating a rare England opportunity with the winning goal in a 1-0 win over Australia at Wembley.

Fresh from signing a new contract at Villa Park until 2028 last Friday (6 October), Watkins was alert in the box to finish when Jack Grealish’s effort was seemingly going wide.

It was reward for an evening of graft, even if Watkins did toil at times. By half-time he had failed to have a shot on target, though he had one blocked and also saw one come off the woodwork.

At the time BBC Sport pundit Phil McNulty commented on the BBC’s live blog: “Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins fully earned his England recall with his fine club form and this is a big chance for him tonight but it has been frustration so far.”

But that frustration turned to joy, with former Villa defender Stephen Warnock saying on BBC Radio 5 live: “Jack Grealish is absolutely furious, he thought his shot was on target, it wasn’t. Watkins had to tap it in at the back post. The predatory instincts of Watkins gets the goal.”

It is unlikely that Watkins has done enough to convince Gareth Southgate he is worthy of usurping captain Harry Kane for the significantly bigger task the Three Lions face at home to Italy in their Euro 2024 qualifier on Tuesday (17 October).

However, in stats provided by SofaScore, by the end of the evening Watkins had scored from his only shot on target and registered three shots of all types, though one of those was registered as a missed ‘big chance’.

He also completed both of his dribble attempts, had a 64 per cent accurate pass success rate (7/11) and won three of his eight duels.

Watkins did also lose possession eight times during the game to sort of highlight an a game in which he certainly put in a shift, but did not always have the quality.

Still, it was a moment for him to remember and Villa boss Unai Emery will be delighted to see his leading striker on target for his country and he will hope the confidence gained can be brought back to Villa Park.

In other Aston Villa news, the Polish media reacted to Matty Cash’s performance against the Faroe Islands.