Noel Whelan has admitted he was “gutted” to hear Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford had been left out of the latest England squad.
The former Leeds forward, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, revealed he could not believe Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins was selected ahead of the 27-year-old.
Gareth Southgate named his squad for the upcoming internationals on Thursday.
Here it is… your first #ThreeLions squad of the year! 👊
— England (@England) March 18, 2021
Instead of Bamford, Villa’s Watkins was handed his first call-up alongside fellow centre-forwards Harry Kane, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Marcus Rashford.
The Leeds United hitman has scored 13 goals and six assists in 28 Premier League games this season.
In comparison, Watkins, 25, has struck 10 times and contributed three assists in 27 matches.
Whelan suggested the Villa star’s age swung Southgate’s thinking but insisted Bamford deserved his chance.
Whelan told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: “I’m gutted. When you look at the stats, they’re better than Ollie Watkins.
“I don’t know whether it’s just age that Gareth’s decided to go with, or a different kind of threat in behind with pace.
“He’s done everything right, Patrick, for two seasons now. If anyone deserved that, I would say it was Bamford out of the two players.
“There’s not much between them bar a couple of years of age. We know Gareth likes to look to the future and integrate players that are going to be there for a long time. We’ve seen it with Kalvin Phillips.
“I think that was an underlying factor as well. We’ve seen how young the England squad is now as well.
“It’s probably why Gareth’s gone for youth rather than age and the quality that Patrick’s shown all season. If anyone deserved that, even one or two caps, it was Patrick.”