Gareth Southgate has admitted that Patrick Bamford was 'unfortunate' to not be selected for the latest England camp, but cited the impressive performances of Ollie Watkins as to why the Aston Villa striker was named in the squad ahead of the Leeds forward.
Watkins and Bamford have both been surprise packages in the Premier League this season, the former hitting 10 goals during his debut season in the top flight and the latter on the scoresheet on 13 occasions, having previously struggled at this level in the earlier stages of his career.
With Tammy Abraham struggling for minutes under Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea, Southgate was on the hunt for an alternative third striker to compliment Harry Kane and Dominic Calvert Lewin ahead of England's trio of World Cup qualifiers at the end of March.
"Very close," Southgate replied when asked how close Bamford was to being selected during the England press conference. "There's a number of positions on the pitch in this squad where there were some really close calls.
"We felt we wanted an extra striker in the squad and both Ollie and Patrick in particular, their goal record has been good, we like the personalities of both. Ollie is a player who we've had less interaction with in the past, it's going to be good to get to know him.
"We like his pressing, we like the speed of the runs in behind. He's got some improvement to make in linking the game but for his first season in the Premier League he's done exceptionally well.
"That's been a really close call because all of the things I've said there about Ollie I could have said for Patrick as well. So he's very unfortunate, and who knows we could be sitting here in a few days time and we've had a problem and Patrick's a player we're very much looking at as well."