Aston Villa ace Ollie Watkins impressed England cult hero Stuart Pearce by producing a ‘wonderful’ display for the Three Lions to pip Australia 1-0 in a friendly at Wembley.

The striker scored the sole goal of the night with an intelligent finish at the far post. Watkins broke the deadlock in the 57th minute after following in Jack Grealish’s attempt on goal and scooping it home. Grealish’s effort was likely to go wide or, at best, find the base of the post

Watkins’ goal saved England from a drab draw with Australia on only the Aston Villa striker’s second start for his country. Gareth Southgate had only previously let the 27-year-old start a friendly with Ivory Coast in March 2022. It was also his previous appearance ahead of Friday.

Watkins impressed Pearce throughout England vs Australia

Pearce appreciated what Watkins showed throughout England’s friendly with Australia. The 78-cap former Three Lions captain exclaimed his respect by stating that the forward ‘rightly deserved’ his standing ovation. Wembley rose when Watkins made way in the 73rd minute.

Young Lions record goalscorer Eddie Nketiah replaced Watkins for his Three Lions bow as a late substitute. The applause was firmly for Watkins, though, and Pearce was full of praise at an early stage on talkSPORT. He loved Watkins’ runs like the striker has shown at Aston Villa.

“A wonderful run by Watkins,” the England cult hero noted (13/10, 20:18) “It’s the same one he made again and again against Brighton. England have got to be more cute with that ball.”

Southgate will be ‘delighted’ with the Aston Villa star’s display

Watkins charmed Pearce with a perfectly timed run through the heart of Australia’s defence. But the eight-cap attacker would not score after Mat Ryan forced the striker wide to narrow the angle. Watkins did get his goal, though, to get further praise from the England cult hero.

Pearce added (21:09): “Watkins has done brilliantly to score. It’s typical striker’s instinct. Southgate will be delighted his side are in front!”

Having also scored against Ivory Coast in March 2022, Watkins will hope he does not have to wait another 19 months to represent England again. Despite thriving under Unai Emery with Aston Villa, Southgate omitted the striker entirely for the Three Lions’ 17 games in between.

Watkins has scored 21 and assisted eight goals in just 39 games since Emery took charge of Aston Villa. His haul included 13 goals and four assists over 24 Premier League matches last term. While Watkins has hit and assisted four apiece during eight top-flight games this term.

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