In the immediate days before Gareth Southgate announced the England squad to take on San Marino, Albania and Poland this month – reports suggested that Patrick Bamford would be given the nod. So, when the squad was announced, it took many by surprise that the Leeds United star was overlooked for Aston Villa ace Ollie Watkins – and Andy Couzens has told LeedsUnited.News that he believes Southgate made the wrong choice.
Going into the international break, 27-year-old Bamford has had a hand in 20 goals this season – scoring 14 and creating six more. His amount of goal involvements has not been bettered by any English player in the Premier League – other than Harry Kane. However, Southgate chose to call-up Watkins from one of his former sides in Villa – a player that has scored 10 and created three in 28 Premier League matches.
Fast forward a week, and £33million (BBC Sport) Villa signing Watkins came on against San Marino to score on his debut – lashing a right-footed effort into the far corner as England beat European minnows 5-0 at San Marino. He remained an unused substitute against Albania, and is unlikely to get a chance over Kane or Calvert-Lewin on Wednesday night when England face Poland.
It was an interesting decision and many fans have had their say. Ex-Leeds midfielder Couzens states that while he believes Southgate made the wrong decision in choosing Watkins over Bamford – he believes that Bamford might not be the kind of player Southgate wants off the bench, suggesting he is not the type to make an immediate impact.
“Personally, no. I think Bamford gives you more,” Couzens told LeedsUnited.News. “Watkins, you look at his price tag – he has done a job at Villa. But his overall game and hold-up play is not as good as Patrick’s. Patrick might be an England/Southgate player, while Watkins could be. Kane will be playing up top, Calvert-Lewin most likely as well.
“You need an impact player and I don’t think Bamford is that player,” Couzens continued in his analysis of Bamford and England. “That might be why Southgate could have chosen Watkins over Bamford. Ayling was talked about too – and rightly so, he has been fantastic this year. It’s fantastic for us that we have three players on the cusp of the England side.”
The European Championships now look a bridge too far for Bamford, given March’s fixtures represent the last squad that will be picked before the group of players are chosen to represent England at this summer’s tournament. There is a chance Bamford could be included in that 23-man squad, but given he missed out this month, he is likely to miss out again.
However, Bamford will be tasked on continuing his excellent scoring rate and if he can reach 20 goals before the end of the season – meaning he would require a run of six goals in nine games, while adding another four assists, that would take him to 30 goal involvements in total. Perhaps if he reaches such a tally of goals and assists, he will be impossible to overlook.