Sunday, May 28, 2023

What Ivan Toney’s loss means to Brentford and England as striker starts long ban

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 18 May 2023


Brentford striker Ivan Toney is serving an eight-month ban after admitting 232 breaches of the Football Association’s betting rules.

The 27-year-old – who has scored 68 goals in 124 appearances for Thomas Frank’s side – will not be able to play again until January 17, 2024.

Here, the PA news agency assesses the significance of his loss for Brentford and England.

Bees’ talisman

Toney is enjoying the best season of his career so far, having scored 20 goals in 33 Premier League appearances and making his long-awaited England debut.

His tally represents 37 per cent of Brentford’s total of 54 goals, the third highest share behind Manchester City’s Erling Haaland (39 per cent) and Tottenham’s Harry Kane (42 per cent).

Toney’s importance to the Bees is clear – as well as being the leading scorer this season, he is top for shots (94), third for assists (four) and fourth for minutes played (2,953).

He has been the club’s top scorer in all three seasons since joining in 2020, netting 31 goals to help them gain promotion from the Championship in his first season and backing that up with 12 in the Premier League last term.

Mbeumo to step up?

It is difficult to assess Brentford’s prospects without their talisman because he has started the vast majority of league games – 109 out of 120 – since his arrival.

The Bees have won 46, drawn 33 and lost 30 matches when Toney has been named in the 11, averaging 1.57 points per game.

Their record without Toney in the starting line-up is not as good, with four wins, three draws and four losses equating to 1.36 points per game.

Frank’s men appeared to have coped better in his absence this season, albeit across a small sample size, having recorded wins over West Ham and Liverpool and a draw with Nottingham Forest.

Bryan Mbeumo scored in each of those matches, despite contributing only four goals in 33 appearances with Toney alongside him.

The Bees’ performance against the Hammers in Toney’s absence on Sunday was especially encouraging, with an impressive attacking display producing a total of 24 shots – the most they have managed in a single game this season.

Plenty of options for Southgate

Toney’s form had moved him into pole position as England’s second-choice centre-forward behind Harry Kane, but manager Gareth Southgate will have no shortage of alternatives in his absence.

The 27-year-old made his international debut against Ukraine in March, becoming the first Brentford player to be capped by England since Les Smith in 1939.

However, with fellow strikers Callum Wilson (17), Marcus Rashford (16) and Ollie Watkins (14) also ranking in the top 10 for Premier League goals this season, Toney could face an uphill struggle to regain his place in the squad.


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