Aston Villa

Aston Villa are handing Exeter City a “huge” financial lifeline if Ollie Watkins wins his first international cap this March.

That is according to ex-England goalkeeper Paul Robinson, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after The Athletic revealed that Brentford and Exeter are due to share a £1million bonus if the 25-year-old striker makes his Three Lions debut.

Watkins, who has scored 12 times in all competitions this season, signed for Villa from Brentford for a club-record £28m in September.

Brentford are due £1m for every England cap Watkins earns up to an unspecified number.

And 15 per cent, £150,000, of this add-on cash will be diverted to the player’s old club, League Two Exeter.

Robinson would be delighted to see Exeter profit from Watkins’ success, claiming that these one-off payments can be financial salvation for lower league teams.

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“Everyone is a winner. It is great news for Exeter especially,” he told Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs.

“Lower league clubs rely on these kinds of payments, especially in the current financial climate.

“Hundreds of thousands of pounds can keep a club like that going for a period of time.

“That sort of money can pay the wage bill for a good few months. That kind of money does not often filter down to the lower leagues so it is a huge bonus.”

Watkins will need to muscle in ahead of fellow strikers Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Harry Kane if he wants to earn his first cap under Gareth Southgate.

England face San Marino, Albania and Poland in their first three 2022 World Cup qualifiers in March.

In other news, a top pundit and former Aston Villa man has named four players who have failed to step up in the injury-enforced absence of Jack Grealish.