Ivan Toney gets England call but no Trent Alexander-Arnold or Ben White | England
Ivan Toney has been rewarded for his impressive season with Brentford by being recalled to the England squad, even though he is braced for a lengthy ban after accepting multiple charges of breaching the Football Association’s betting rules. Toney has been selected by Gareth Southgate in a squad that features no Raheem Sterling or Trent Alexander-Arnold. Southgate said Sterling was injured and would otherwise have been chosen.
Toney has scored 17 goals this season and could make his England debut in the Euro 2024 qualifiers away to Italy and at home to Ukraine this month. He was called up by Gareth Southgate last year but did not make an appearance and was not selected for the World Cup in Qatar shortly after it emerged he was helping the FA with inquiries into allegations of historical match betting.
In November and December 262 charges were brought against him by the FA and he has admitted to many, but not all, of these. Toney is expected to contest some of the charges at an FA disciplinary hearing. He is the Premier League’s third-top scorer this season behind Erling Haaland and Harry Kane and was watched by Southgate at Everton last Saturday.
“He’s available for his club,” Southgate said. “There hasn’t been a trial as yet or any judgment so I don’t know on what basis we wouldn’t pick him really … He’s playing really well. I like his presence in games. I saw his game at Arsenal where I thought he was outstanding and he deserves his opportunity.”
In further changes from the World Cup, Conor Coady, Ben White and Callum Wilson have joined Alexander-Arnold in being overlooked. White went home early from the tournament and Southgate said the Arsenal player and Alexander-Arnold were just behind Reece James, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker in the pecking order at right-back.
Ben Chilwell and James return after missing the World Cup because of injury. There are also places for Marc Guéhi and Kalvin Phillips, who has been little used by Manchester City, but Southgate has again not found room for Fikayo Tomori or Jadon Sancho.
Southgate said he had spoken to Walker after it emerged the City player was under investigation by Cheshire police after CCTV footage appeared to show him “exposing himself in a Manchester bar”. The manager said: “It’s a complicated situation. I’ve spoken at length with him. He’s back playing with his club. There’s no conclusive evidence at this stage to leave him out. I think I have to be very careful on being the moral judge on things.”
Southgate added that there was “an even higher bar on how you conduct yourself” as an England international and that he was not “taking those decisions lightly”.