Brentford's Ivan Toney has been called up to the England squad
London (AFP) - Brentford striker Ivan Toney on Thursday was handed a recall to the England squad for Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine despite facing a series of betting charges by the English Football Association.
Toney, who is yet to make his international debut after being unused by Gareth Southgate following his previous call-up in September, has been charged with 262 breaches of the FA’s rules which forbid players from betting on any match, even when they are not involved.
The 27-year-old is expected to face a lengthy ban if found guilty by an FA hearing.
However, Southgate said there was no reason not to include Toney until there is a final judgement in his case.
Only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane have scored more than Toney’s 16 Premier League goals this season, which have put Brentford in contention to qualify for Europe.
“The fact is that Ivan is available for his club, there hasn’t been a trial or any judgement as yet, so I don’t know on what basis we wouldn’t pick him,” said Southgate.
“He’s playing really well. I like his presence in games, I saw his game at Arsenal where he was outstanding and deserves his opportunity.”
Raheem Sterling misses out through injury and Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is the other big omission from Southgate’s World Cup squad.
Kyle Walker is included despite the Manchester City defender being the subject of a police investigation over allegations he indecently exposed himself in a bar earlier this month.
“I don’t think we’re taking these decisions lightly,” added Southgate on Walker’s selection.
“It’s a complicated situation. I’ve spoken at length with him, the fact is at the moment that he’s back playing with his club and there’s no conclusive evidence to leave him out at this stage.”
Manchester United centre-back Harry Maguire, Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount and Kalvin Phillips of Manchester City all retain their places despite limited time on the field at club level.
The Three Lions begin their quest to qualify for next year’s Euro in Germany with a tough trip away to defending champions Italy in Naples on March 23.
“We have basically a couple of training days to prepare for a humdinger of a game in Naples, but I think the players will be ready,” said Southgate, whose side bowed out at the quarter-finals of the World Cup to France in December.
“These are the games we have to show we can go to these places and win.”
England then host Ukraine at Wembley three days later.
Squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Newcastle), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
Defenders: Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw (both Manchester United), Eric Dier (Tottenham), John Stones, Kyle Walker (both Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Reece James, Ben Chilwell (both Chelsea), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Mason Mount, Conor Gallagher (both Chelsea), Declan Rice (West Ham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), James Maddison (Leicester)
Forwards: Phil Foden, Jack Grealish (both Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Ivan Toney (Brentford)