Ollie Watkins has praised Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery for helping him get back in the England squad.
The striker returned to the international scene for the first time since March 2022 and hit the only goal of the game as England beat Australia 1-0 in a Wembley friendly on Friday night.
Watkins, 27, has scored four goals and provided four assists in the first eight Premier League games of the new season – including a memorable hat-trick against Brighton.
He had scored just twice last campaign before Emery was appointed as Steven Gerrard’s successor in November but then hit 14 in 26 matches following the Spaniard’s arrival at Villa Park.
Asked how it felt to return to the England set-up following time out of the squad, Watkins said: “I think my mindset has changed since the boss has come in, Unai Emery at Villa.
“He’s filled me with a lot of confidence. I’ve definitely improved in these last 18 months since I was last in the England camp.
“I think it shows in my form and my performance here so I’m really happy and I’m delighted to be back in the squad and putting on an England shirt.
“I envisioned it all (playing and scoring against Australia). I was itching to get on the pitch so I’m delighted I got my goal and it helped the team to win.”
Realistically, Watkins is one of a number of forward options who will be vying to be the back-up to England captain and all-time record goalscorer Harry Kane at Euro 2024.
Callum Wilson, Ivan Toney, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and newly-capped Eddie Nketiah are other strikers in Gareth Southgate’s pool but Watkins believes he is not a like-for-like replacement for Kane when he is given the nod.
“I think I’ve got a completely different playing style to Harry, he can drop deep and play some unbelievable long passes – that’s not my game. I can’t do that,” he added.
“My strengths are running in behind and stretching them so I can only do what I can do. When I put on the shirt I’ll try and do the best I can for my country and then it is the manager’s decision.”