By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat
England match-winner Ollie Watkins feels a change of mentality has propelled him back into the running to be Gareth Southgate's second-choice striker behind record goalscorer Harry Kane.
After his first call-up since March 2022, Watkins scored his third England goal as England laboured to a tense 1-0 win over Australia at Wembley.
Much tougher tests lie ahead, starting with Tuesday’s Euro qualifier against Italy, but Watkins was delighted to take his chance after a rare start for Southgate side.
“There’s so many good forwards around scoring goals and it’s just about taking your opportunity when you get it,” said Watkins.
“I’m delighted to get the opportunity tonight.
“It’s always an honour putting on the shirt.
It’s been a long time coming, I’ve been waiting a long time for the next call up and the camp.
“I was looking forward to it so I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip, so I’m glad I got my goal and it helped the team to win.”
In a year in which England and Australia have gone toe-to-toe across the men’s and women’s Ashes and at the Women’s World Cup, this contest followed the same trend, with very little to split the sides.
Watkins hit the post in the first half after an earlier chance slipped between his legs, but he delivered the decisive blow on 57 minutes, latching onto a cross-shot from Jack Grealish.
“I think Jack has gone to shoot and he’s dragged it,” said Watkins.
“I don’t think it was going in. My first thought was that it was but I took it off him.
“I knew I wasn’t going to come off this pitch without a goal tonight.
“That’s what I had in my mind, the first chance just went under my foot.
“With the second one I think I did everything right, I just didn’t hit it right. I knew I’d get another chance, I’m playing with top players so I had to keep driving.
“A lot of us haven’t played together before and we play different styles at club level, but we ground it out and I think if I score early it’s a different game.
“There’s a lot to work on but it’s nice that we won.”
Watkins has started the season in fine form for Aston Villa, with eight goal contributions in eight matches for Unai Emery’s side.
The Newton Abbot-born star feels the Spaniard has helped him rediscover his best form, giving him a great chance of making the squad for next summer’s Euros.
The Three Lions can take a giant step towards qualification with a win over Italy, two and a half years on from their Wembley Euros misery at the hands of the Azzurri, and Watkins is determined to play a starring role in that game and beyond.
“I think before there were a few times I got called up and I didn’t think I deserved it,” he added.
“Now, I’m coming into the camp knowing that I deserve to be here after a run of good performances.
“I wasn’t nervous and just tried to enjoy playing in front of all these fans. I want to score and I’ve done that, so it’s a good night.”