Daily Mail

Toney given nod despite bets probe


- By SAMI MOKBEL Chief Football Reporter

GARETH Southgate handed in- form Ivan Toney a recall to the England squad yesterday despite the Brentford star’s imminent hearing into betting offences.

The England boss axed Trent Alexander-Arnold from his first post-World Cup squad, but Kyle Walker was selected despite being investigat­ed by police over an incident in a Manchester pub.

Raheem Sterling was omitted due to a hamstring problem. Southgate said he would have selected the Chelsea man had he been fit.

Southgate does not believe Toney’s FA disciplina­ry hearing into gambling breaches should prevent the striker, who has scored 17 goals for Brentford this season, being called up.

Toney has admitted some, but not all, of 262 charges made against him by the FA.

Southgate said: ‘The fact is, he is playing for his club. There hasn’t been a trial or any judgment so I don’t know on what basis we wouldn’t pick him.

‘Ivan has been consistent across the season. I also like his sense of belief on the pitch. I saw him at Arsenal and he went on that pitch thinking he would cause havoc that day. That’s a good sign, that’s what you need if you’re going to play for your country.’

Alexander-Arnold’s exclusion was perhaps the biggest call, but it was hardly a shock given his difficult season with Liverpool, who are well off the pace in the Premier League.

Southgate said: ‘I have always communicat­ed clearly with all of the players on what we think their strengths are and what we think they might be able to improve on.

‘In the past we have maybe taken more players at right back, but this is the time of the season when you don’t want to carry too many if they are not going to play. They are as well to have a break.

‘I am not going into a coaching conversati­on about all the players who have not made the squad. They know the reasons why, we always give clarity on that.’

On Walker’s inclusion, Southgate added: ‘It’s a complicate­d situation, I’ve spoken at length with him.

‘There’s no conclusive evidence to leave him out at this stage. I have to be careful on being the moral judge on things. We feel we want him with us and it’s the right thing to do.

‘ When you are an England player, there is an even higher bar

on how you conduct yourself. We are not taking decisions lightly.’

Southgate insisted that Ben White, who is not in the squad, remains in contention after the Arsenal right back left the World Cup squad for ‘personal reasons’.

Chelsea defensive pair Reece James and Ben Chilwell return after missing the tournament in Qatar through injury.

Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi is back as Everton’s Conor Coady is left out, perhaps ending his England career. Tottenham’s Eric Dier keeps his spot despite an indifferen­t season.

England face Italy on Thursday before welcoming Ukraine to

Wembley a week on Sunday as the team’s Euro 2024 qualificat­ion campaign gets underway.

Southgate added: ‘I do think we can (win the Euros). That’s the challenge. I don’t think the players need any more evidence of what’s possible.

‘They have played in the biggest games in world football bar one (the World Cup final). They’ve had results against most of the top teams but we’ve got to do that more consistent­ly.

‘ The scenario of going to Italy, where we haven’t won for decades, is a classic type of game that we’ve got to start winning. If we are looking for the next step to take as a team, that is it.’

 ?? REX FEATURES ?? Inked in: Toney’s goals have won him a recall
REX FEATURES Inked in: Toney’s goals have won him a recall
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