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England to discuss whether to take the knee in World Cup qualifiers

England are set to hold a team meeting to decide whether they will take the knee ahead of their World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.

Premier League players have been taking the knee to highlight racial inequality since June. However, Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has said he will no longer continue to do so because it has lost its significance while Scotland have announced their players will stand before their games during the international break.

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England will discuss the situation in a team meeting on Tuesday night to decide their course of action ahead of Thursday’s clash with San Marino.

“We’ve got a team meeting about it tonight and I think everyone has their own different opinions,” Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins, who has been called up to the squad for the first time, said. “I think it’s important that we keep doing it.

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“It’s a very touchy subject and I think it’s a very powerful message. People are still talking about it and it reminds people why we are doing it.”

Watkins has been rewarded for his form with Villa following his summer move from Championship side Brentford. But despite scoring 10 goals in his first season in the Premier League, the 25-year-old, who was playing for Exeter in League Two as recently as 2017, said the call from Gareth Southgate was still a shock.

“I didn’t really expect to get called up,” he said. “I got a text a few weeks before and I had a bit of a stinker at Newcastle away so I didn’t really expect to get called up but when I did find out I was over the moon.

“I’m just going to try to enjoy this week, work hard and make a good impression and see where it goes from there. After that I need to perform week in, week out for my club and then see what happens.”

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