'We were waiting to see how he came through' - Gareth Southgate on Leeds United's Patrick Bamford, Ollie Watkins and England's October squad

England boss Gareth Southgate says he was monitoring Patrick Bamford's form and his injury status as he mulled over his selection decisions for October's squad.

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 2:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th September 2021, 2:38 pm
WEEKS AWAY - Patrick Bamford will remain out injured for another few weeks according to Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa, so would have missed England's games next month. Pic: Getty

The Whites striker is out of action for the next few weeks through an ankle injury he picked up against Newcastle United at St James' Park on September 17.

Having forced his way into Southgate's thinking, if not his squad, with 17 Premier League goals last season, Bamford finally earned his first ever senior international call up last month and made his debut against Andorra.

Southgate was pleased with the way the centre forward settled into life in the England camp.

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"I thought he clearly enjoyed being with us, he fitted in well with the group," he said.

"We knew Patrick anyway from our time with the 21s, it wasn't the first time we'd worked with him and it wasn't the first time for him with a number of players he was with in that period."

Although injury has made the decision for Southgate on this occasion, he could only say that Bamford had remained in his mind as he plotted a squad for the World Cup qualifiers in Andorra and Hungary over the next fortnight.

"We don't make the plans that far in advance," he said.

"He's been out for a couple of weeks already, we are always assessing the squad but we never have that final decision on where we might be heading until a week before this day. Things change so quickly, injuries occur, we can never finalise things. We can have an idea in our head of the team we'd like to play next week but that can easily change in the next three days or next week when we're together. Circumstance often dictates that. I can't give you a definitive as to how we saw this month, we were waiting to see how he came through, how he played for his club, that mapped against others who would be in the frame."

Bamford's Leeds United team-mate Kalvin Phillips retains his place and will add to the 17 caps he has earned over his first year in international football.

In Bamford's absence, Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins has returned to the England fold to provide Southgate with back up for first-choice striker Harry Kane.

The Three Lions boss would have picked Watkins for the September internationals had he not been unavailable.

"We would have selected Ollie last month but he was injured," said Southgate.

"He was very close to making the squad for the Euros. He's still getting back to full fitness at Villa we know but I loved his mentality when he was working with us. He didn't dip a toe in the water, he was determined to take the opportunity.

"We've got some good centre forward options, a couple missing with injury, but we really liked Ollie's mentality."

Manchester United striker Mason Greenwood misses out again but Southgate has explained that both he and Jude Bellingham, aged 19 and 18 respectively, need to be looked after during hectic club schedules.

"They're young players with a heavy load at the moment," he said.

"I've spoken with both Jude and Mason. Jude has a high level of matches, Champions League games, league games. These lads are still growing. We've got to be really careful how we handle them. We think they can be really exciting players for England for the future. We don't want to overload them. They are decisions taken with me having conversations with the players and their families."

As for Kane, whose struggles in a struggling Spurs side have been well documented, Southgate expects the same striker England have counted on previously when he reports for international duty.

"It's the life of being a high profile player, you have to accept there will be that speculation and intensity of analysis of your performances," he said.

"From our perspective he continues to be such a critical part of what we do. I'm sure he's going to be highly motivated when he comes to see us next week. Harry is in those echelons of incredible names who have scored a lot of goals for England. He will recognise we're eight points minimum to qualify for the World Cup and we've still got a job to do in that regard."