Ivan Toney has been called up by England for this month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine, with Trent Alexander-Arnold missing out.
Toney was handed his first senior call-up ahead of Nations League fixtures against Italy and Germany in September, though the Brentford striker failed to get any minutes in those games and did not make England’s World Cup squad despite his excellent form.
The 27-year-old scored in Brentford’s 2-0 win over Southampton on Tuesday, taking his tally of Premier League goals this season to 16 – a total bettered only by Erling Haaland (28) and Harry Kane (20) – but his inclusion this time around comes as something of a surprise after he was charged with 262 alleged breaches of the Football Association’s (FA) gambling rules.
Gareth Southgate, however, remains willing to select the striker as long as he is available to feature for his club.
“The fact is he’s available for his club, there hasn’t been a trial or any judgement, so I don’t know on what basis we wouldn’t pick him,” Southgate said after naming his squad on Thursday.
“He’s playing really well, I like his presence in games and he deserves his opportunity.”
Here we go… your #ThreeLions for March camp!
— England (@England) March 16, 2023
Alexander-Arnold is among the most notable absentees, having attracted criticism for his performances in an underwhelming campaign for Liverpool.
With Reece James returning to the fold after missing the World Cup with a knee injury, Southgate believes selecting Alexander-Arnold – as well as fellow absentee Ben White – would have been wasteful.
“The three boys that are in as right-backs, we’ve got them ahead of those two [Alexander-Arnold and White],” Southgate said. “It’s the hardest position to pick, it’s always shifting around on form.
“Kyle [Walker] and [Kieran] Trippier were obviously the ones that played at the World Cup, and Reece, coming back, is another top player.
“In the past we’ve maybe taken more players in that position, but it’s the stage of the season where you don’t want to carry too many who are not going to play. All the players who haven’t made the squad know the reasons why.”
Raheem Sterling has also missed out but Southgate put his absence down to a muscle injury.
Asked whether Sterling would have made the squad if he was fully fit, Southgate responded: “Yeah, absolutely.”
Conor Coady, who has lost his place in Everton’s team under Sean Dyche, has been left out, with Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi coming in, while Harry Maguire has retained his place despite limited game time at Manchester United.
Maguire’s club-mate Jadon Sancho has not earned a recall, though in-form Marcus Rashford joins Toney and Harry Kane among England’s striker options.
England travel to Naples to face Italy in a re-run of the Euro 2020 final next Thursday, before hosting Ukraine at Wembley Stadium three days later.
Returning to the #ThreeLions squad.
Welcome back, lads! pic.twitter.com/aHAvU0fo34
— England (@England) March 16, 2023
England squad: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Newcastle United), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal); Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Maddison (Leicester City), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (West Ham); Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford).
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