Dean Smith has revealed Ollie Watkins targeted an England call-up before he even kicked a ball in the Premier League.
Villa paid a club-record £28million for Watkins last September to Smith’s old club at Brentford, where the forward top scored last term with 26 Championship goals.
Watkins will be looking to add to his 10 Premier League strikes when Spurs visit Villa Park on Sunday.
The forward,25, is full of confidence after getting his first full senior call-up this week for this month’s World Cup qualifiers.
Villa boss Smith is thrilled for the forward who he signed for the Bees too and revealed Watkins made it no secret he wanted to get in the England squad in talks over joining.
Smith revealed: “One of the questions he had for me when he signed was how I could get him into the England squad?
“He’s got himself into the England squad with his performances for Aston Villa.
“I’m thrilled for Ollie.
“He’s one of the most hard-working individuals I’ve worked with.
“He’s got lots of qualities, but the biggest one for me has always been his attitude and selfless nature to the team.
“Last year he was the top scorer in the Championship and we wanted to bring him to Aston Villa – we believed he could make that step-up.”
Villa boss Smith hopes they will be boosted this weekend by the return of skipper Jack Grealish after five games out with a shin injury.
Smith added: “I’m hopeful for Jack.
“I’ll leave it until Sunday morning.
“He’s pain-free and he’s running.
“Ultimately, it will be his decision.
“I know Aston Villa fans will be fretting over whether it’s a long-term injury.
“It’s not a long-term injury. We’ve been guided by Jack, who’s been suffering the pain. We’ll leave it as late as we can.”
Smith expects Jose Mourinho’s Spurs to be fired up after their extra-time Europa League exit to Dinamo Zagreb after a shock 3-0 loss in Croatia.
Smith said: “The thing that helps us more than anything is the fact that the game went to extra-time.
“The result for us is probably the wrong thing because I can expect Jose Mourinho to get a backlash from his players and for them to come out fighting at Villa Park.”