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Aston Villa striker Watkins: Non-league football crucial to development

Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins says his time in the non-leagues was the making of him.

Watkins has just won a first call to the England squad.

it was when ­Watkins went out on loan from ­Exeter to non-league Weston-super-Mare, that he ­realised the tests that lay ahead.

He told the Mirror: “Going to Weston opened my eyes. There was a lot of physical contact. I was used to youth-team games and ­reserve-team games.

“Non-league helped me to develop a lot. There were older players, perhaps not as ­fit or as quick as me but able to use ways to stop me with the odd niggle here and there.

“Or they'd just foul me if I went past them.

“It was ­completely different to reserve-team football.

“I was always a skinny kid and I wanted to be more ­powerful and be holding my own, so I started to invest in ­myself then. Going to the gym.

“I've always been a lucky ­person. I've thought 'Why me?' – but I think I've worked hard and overcome any obstacles.

“Even if I've had the best game possible, nothing is ever perfect. I'm still looking for ­perfection – I know that's not real, but it keeps me pushing for more.

“When I join up with the England lads, I'm just going to take it in my stride, enjoy the whole camp, and live each day like it's the last. I'm going to give it my all, and whatever ­happens, happens."

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