Could Ivan Toney Be England’s Answer To World Cup Striker Role?
The rise and rise of Premier League striker Ivan Toney took another major leap forward recently. The Brentford forward earned his first call-up to the senior England squad as manager Gareth Southgate decided to have a look at him.
Given the timing of the call-up, that puts Ivan Toney in the frame for some potential action at this year’s FIFA World Cup. The big question now is whether he can make the grade at the highest level.
Ivan Toney Rewarded with England Call Up
With a good start to the new Premier League season, Brentford striker Ivan Toney now finds himself in England’s plans. He was the only new player that England manager Gareth Southgate named when he announced his squad in mid-September.
It means now that there are some potentially big moments coming up for Toney. In a short amount of time as well. Good consistent form has put him on the map. If he can make a good impression in an England shirt, Toney could find himself on the plane to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.
As much as the new pressure to not only perform for the Three Lions but to keep the goals flowing for Brentford will bring new tests for Toney, things could be falling into place for him. Everton’s Dominic Calvert Lewin remains with injury issues.
Marcus Rashford is injured. Rashford’s Manchester United teammate Jadon Sancho couldn’t force his way into the picture. So there has been space created in the England squad. Toney could have the pieces to fill it perfectly and give the Three Lions a suitable understudy for Harry Kane.
Harry Kane’s Understudy
No matter the form that Ivan Toney or any other England striker can produce between now and the 2022 World Cup, Harry Kane’s name will be one of the first on the England team sheet. The captain is the main actor in Gareth Southgate’s plans.
But beyond the Tottenham striker, what do England have as a genuine striking power back-up? At the Euro 2020 Championships, it was Dominic Calvert-Lewin. But he’s out of the frame currently and a World Cup doubt. Tammy Abraham has retained his place, despite putting in a below-par effort in UEFA Nations League action earlier this year.
The forwards making it into England’s final pre-World Cup squad along with Kane, Abraham and Toney are Jarrod Bowen, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling. West Ham’s Bowen aside, there’s little in the form of a number nine type, Harry Kane replacement there.
This is where Toney comes into the picture. He’s the first Brentford player to receive an England call-up in more than eight decades.
Toney’s Test In The Autumn
England’s squad for the autumn 2022 UEFA Nations League matches, represent the final competitive action before the World Cup. England had massive early struggles in Group A3 of the Nations League, a group containing Hungary, Germany and Italy.
A W2 L2 record from their first four played, included two losses against Hungary, leaving England’s World Cup preparations in a bad place. The Three Lions produced only one goal in those first four group matches for the Nations League. That was from the penalty spot in a 1-1 draw against Germany, converted by Harry Kane.
A lack of goals and a lack of form isn’t what England fans want to see from their national side in a World Cup year. Expectations in the England base are high of course, after reaching the Final of Euro 2020. But there is a question about whether they have improved since the summer of last year.
But again, the slump has created an opportunity for Ivan Toney to come in and make his stamp. It will be up to England boss Gareth Southgate to now give him the chance to go and claim a place in the World Cup squad.
England’s final two National League matches come against Italy and Germany. So there is not a gentle easing into the national set-up for Toney. He’s going to be thrown into the deep end, someone that perhaps Southgate is hoping can solve a clear issue for England.
Belief Goes A Long Way
Only four seasons ago Ivan Toney was playing League One. It is a similar journey to the top of the game that Leicester City legend Jamie Vardy went through. Coming up through the lower tiers, making the grade each time and pushing on to finally reach the heights of the UEFA Champions League and the England squad.
The self-belief goes a long way with that as well. Ivan Toney appears to have that in spades as he has backed his ability throughout his career.
What Toney Brings
Goals are the first obvious asset that Ivan Toney can bring to the table for England. That’s what he is on the pitch to do -put the ball in the net. He notably is a player that scores the bulk of his goals from inside the opposition box. Toney had reached 50 goals for Brentford before netting his first goal for the London club from outside the box.
Toney is a very competitive player with a good attitude and he isn’t afraid to put his foot in where he needs to help his team out. He has a lot of running in the tank and he has proven to not be all about the goals.
Usually from the right-hand side, he throws crosses into the attack for his teammates, and he is the go-to man for penalty kicks. Toney scored from the penalty spot against Leeds in a Premier League match in early September 2022, part of a hattrick from the forward on the day.
That was his 18th successful penalty kick by him since joining Brentford, a 100% record. There is also a defensive side to Toney’s game, and he also defends his six-yard box from corner kicks.
2022/23 Season Goals
Five goals in six league fixtures at the start of the 2022/23 Premier League season was form that couldn’t be ignored. He scored two in his first three (at Leicester and at Fulham) before firing off his brilliant hattrick against Leeds.
Under manager Thomas Franck, Brentford were promoted to the top flight for the start of the 2021/22 season. That was the first time in more than six decades that the club had been in that position. The Ivan Toney stats for Brentford’s promotion-winning season from the Championship saw him produce 31 league goals, a new league record.
Toney then did a superb job applying himself in the top flight where he scored 12 goals in 33 appearances for Brentford. It was a fantastic debut season in the Premier League for the player and club and Toney proved what he seemed to already know, that he can cut it at the top.
Overall in the 2021/22 Premier League season, Toney had 17 goal involvements.
Where It Started For Ivan Toney
The Northampton-born player made history by becoming the youngest ever player to make it into his hometown clubs’ first team. He made a late appearance for Northampton in an FA Cup match in 2012 at 16 years old.
His professional league debut happened the following season for Northampton in League Two, and he spent two seasons there with the club. In his second season there, Toney scored 8 league goals in 40 appearances.
Then Premier League side Newcastle came knocking and signed the player in August 2015. But there wasn’t a time when he was really given the chance to settle in at Newcastle, making only two appearances in the 2015/16 season as the Magpies were relegated.
The club either didn’t trust him enough with the responsibilities during their fight for survival or didn’t want him. It was a strange situation as Newcastle slumped to the second tier, that they weren’t prepared to give Toney a chance even then.
Travels Toughen Toney
Toney then spent five seasons out on loans at various League One clubs. He put in appearances for Barnsley, Shrewsbury, Scunthorpe and Wigan in the division before he was sold by Newcastle to Peterborough.
This was to be a pivotal move for Toney as it was during his time with the Posh in League One that his scoring ability was really given the chance to flourish further. It was the start of a massive upward swing in the output of Ivan Toney stats. Toney scored 16 goals on his debut season with Peterborough, before rattling off 24 in 32 appearances in the following campaign.
Brentford then picked him up for a fee of around £5 million upfront with almost twice as much as that for add-ons. The England call-up for Toney is a financial boost for League One side Peterborough as that could see more money trickle down to them for appearances and goals.
Will England See The Best Of Ivan Toney?
The Jamaican Football Federation has previously targeted Ivan Toney, allegedly trying to get him to play for them. Jamaica needed a boost for their World Cup 2022 qualification bid and were searching around for qualifying players.
Toney was one, but the player himself, who was born in England, rejected the calls. He put his stock in wanting to play for the Three Lions. That chance may now come to be realised. What did Ivan Toney say about his call-up to the England squad? The first Brentford player to receive a call-up since 1939 was simply “speechless”.
England need to find a genuine back-up for Harry Kane and someone who can also carry the can beyond him. Can England work Toney into their plans with limited time before they head to Qatar?
Toney has arguably earned his chance, but given his call-up comes shortly before the World Cup, it’s a big roll of the dice. But Could Toney be one of the great World Cup wildcards like Italy’s Salvatore Schillaci who won the Golden Boot at Italia 1990 from out of nowhere?