Arnold poised to hand Southampton starlet Watts Socceroos World Cup call-up


Kathmandu is calling for gifted Southampton midfielder Caleb Watts, with Socceroos coach Graham Arnold revealing he will summon the uncapped teenager into his squad for this month’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Nepal.

Arnold believes Watts - who made his second Premier League appearance off the bench against Everton overnight - can bring the Socceroos “something different”.

Along with Mat Ryan, London-raised Watts, 19, is one of an endangered species of Australians playing in the English top flight once splashed with green and gold in the form of Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Lucas Neill, Mark Schwarzer, Brett Emerton, Josip Skoko, Paul Okon and Vince Grella.

Arnold is eager to unleash the free-ranging, creative midfielder compared by some to Aston Villa orchestrator Jack Grealish against the 161st-ranked nation on March 30.

“We’ve been monitoring Caleb closely since the under-17 World Cup (in Brazil in 2019) and he’s a player with so much promise,” said Arnold.

“Southampton believed in him enough to give him a Premier League debut a few weeks back - and now he’s built on that with a second appearance (a 12-minute cameo in the 1-0 loss to the Toffees).

“That says a lot about the level he’s now at.

“He’s an exciting young prospect who can bring us something a bit different.”

Talking to The World Game in January after making his EPL debut against Arsenal, Watts gave a summation of where he’s at.

“There are definitely some weaknesses which I’m working on,” he said.

“But I think I’m quite a good ball carrier and I run in behind quite well.

“I’ve got to keep working and developing on a lot of levels.

“I’ll take it as it comes but I definitely want to play for the senior team (Socceroos) and the Olyroos (at July’s Olympic Games in Tokyo).”

Arnold has no doubt his time to shine has arrived, with the energy and effervescence which has impressed Saints coach Ralph Hasenhüttl giving him options in the number 10 and eight roles with the national team.

“He’s a level headed, ambitious kid who’s been working hard and he deserves his break,” added Arnold.

“I’d like to see him in camp with Socceroos and see how he settles in and reacts.”

Source SBS The World Game