Dean Smith makes admission over Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford after Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins receives England call

Aston Villa's head coach was asked about the latest England squad - which included striker Ollie Watkins in place of Patrick Bamford.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 11:59 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 12:00 pm
Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford. Pic: Getty

Dean Smith believes Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford can count himself highly unlucky to miss out on an England call-up.

The Aston Villa boss saw his own forward Ollie Watkins included in Gareth Southgate's latest Three Lions squad for the first time.

Watkins - who joined Villa from Championship outfit Brentford last summer to reunite with his former head coach - earned an England spot ahead of Bamford for the current international break.

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Bamford has scored 14 goals and bagged six assists this term under Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road while Watkins has found the net 10 times along with three assists at Villa Park.

The decision caused debate among football fans with Southgate describing United's number nine as being "very close" to inclusion.

England take on San Marino, Albania and Poland over the coming days as they begin their qualification campaign for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Smith felt two other members in his squad - Ezri Konsa and Matt Targett - were also unfortunate to not receive a call for their country but admitted he felt hugely for Bamford.

"They have been in very good form," said Smith.

"There are always players who are going to be unlucky. I think Patrick Bamford is unlucky at Leeds United. There are lots of players that Gareth has to choose from, so I certainly don’t envy the role he has got.

"He also namechecks Matty Cash, who has been injured, unfortunately, so there are a lot of players out there who are pushing and Gareth will have a tricky job come the summer picking for the Euros."

Southgate - who did pick Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips - explained his decision to exclude Bamford last week following the squad announcement.

“(Bamford was) very close,” the Three Lions boss conceded.

“There’s a number of positions in this squad that have been really close calls and we felt we wanted an extra striker.

"Ollie and Patrick in particular, their goals record has been good. We like the personalities of both. Ollie is a player we’ve had less interaction with in the past. It’s going to be good to get to know him.

“We like his pressing, the speed and the runs in behind. He’s got some improvement to make in linking the game, but in his first season in the Premier League at a big club, he’s done exceptionally well.

“That’s been a really close call because of all the things I’ve said about Ollie I could have said for Patrick as well. So he’s very unfortunate.”