Ivan Toney is a “perfect fit” for England, so says Thomas Frank, as the Brentford striker backed up his claim for a World Cup call.
Toney has been in superb form for Brentford this season and moved onto eight league goals for the season with a double in Friday’s 2-0 defeat of Brighton and Hove Albion.
Having marked his 100th Premier League appearance for Brentford with a deft backheel to put them ahead in the first half, Toney coolly converted a spot-kick after the break to seal the points.
Toney has scored all 20 of his penalties for Brentford (excluding shoot-outs), including eight in the Premier League, putting him behind only Dimitar Berbatov (9/9) and Yaya Toure (11/11) when it comes to players with a 100 per cent record from the spot in the competition.
The 26-year-old, who also netted from 12 yards in last week’s defeat to Newcastle United and last month’s thrashing of Leeds United, received his maiden England call-up for the Nations League matches against Italy and Germany in September.
While he did not make his international debut, only Erling Haaland (15) has scored more goals than Toney in the Premier League this season, and Frank thinks Toney – who he reiterated is the finest penalty taker in the game – must be part of Gareth Southgate’s squad.
“I know I say it every time and he’s starting to back me up a bit – the best penalty taker in the world. It’s not only because of his coolness, his technique, strategy and he practices,” Frank told Sky Sports.
“We spoke about when he got the call, if he could get the first cap that would be amazing. It would be the first time in, I don’t know, 80 years [that a Brentford player played for England] and we keep breaking records these days.
“But for Ivan it would be amazing and I think – I respect Gareth so much, he knows the bigger picture more than me – but I think he’s a perfect fit for the squad if you want that flexibility in strikers.”
Frank’s sentiment was echoed by Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher, who said: “I think he has to go. We know Harry Kane is our number one but after that it feels as though a lot of the strikers are in the same sort of category in terms of quality. Ivan Toney, right now, is at the top of that list and I don’t see how he doesn’t go.”
Fellow pundit Gary Neville says Toney – who joked he “thinks of being on the beach with a cocktail” when he takes his penalties, could prove a difference maker in a penalty shoot-out.
England have won only one of their last eight shoot-outs at major tournaments – against Colombia at the 2018 World Cup. Indeed, they lost last year’s Euro 2020 final to Italy on penalties.
Neville said: “I went to eight tournaments, five of those got knocked out on penalties. The fact is it’s about having confident players who do it regularly – and England have got a lot of those in the squad.
“Those big moments will be determined by penalties and free-kicks, to not have him there would be a big risk.”
For his part, Toney said of his England experience: “I didn’t feel out of place. I felt like I was ready for that step.
“I’m ready to take my opportunity. I always see myself as the best player on the pitch and you’ve always got to have that mentality, no matter who you come up against.”