Toney earns England call-up as Southgate leaves out Alexander-Arnold for first Euro 2024 qualifiers

By Sports Desk March 16, 2023

Ivan Toney has been called up by England for this month's Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine, with Trent Alexander-Arnold missing out.

Toney was handed his first senior call-up ahead of Nations League fixtures against Italy and Germany in September, though the Brentford striker failed to get any minutes in those games and did not make England's World Cup squad despite his excellent form.

The 27-year-old scored in Brentford's 2-0 win over Southampton on Tuesday, taking his tally of Premier League goals this season to 16 – a total bettered only by Erling Haaland (28) and Harry Kane (20) – but his inclusion this time around comes as something of a surprise after he was charged with 262 alleged breaches of the Football Association's (FA) gambling rules.

Gareth Southgate, however, remains willing to select the striker as long as he is available to feature for his club. 

"The fact is he's available for his club, there hasn't been a trial or any judgement, so I don't know on what basis we wouldn't pick him," Southgate said after naming his squad on Thursday.

"He's playing really well, I like his presence in games and he deserves his opportunity."

Alexander-Arnold is among the most notable absentees, having attracted criticism for his performances in an underwhelming campaign for Liverpool.

With Reece James returning to the fold after missing the World Cup with a knee injury, Southgate believes selecting Alexander-Arnold – as well as fellow absentee Ben White – would have been wasteful.

"The three boys that are in as right-backs, we've got them ahead of those two [Alexander-Arnold and White]," Southgate said. "It's the hardest position to pick, it's always shifting around on form.

"Kyle [Walker] and [Kieran] Trippier were obviously the ones that played at the World Cup, and Reece, coming back, is another top player.

"In the past we've maybe taken more players in that position, but it's the stage of the season where you don't want to carry too many who are not going to play. All the players who haven't made the squad know the reasons why."

Raheem Sterling has also missed out but Southgate put his absence down to a muscle injury.

Asked whether Sterling would have made the squad if he was fully fit, Southgate responded: "Yeah, absolutely."

Conor Coady, who has lost his place in Everton's team under Sean Dyche, has been left out, with Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi coming in, while Harry Maguire has retained his place despite limited game time at Manchester United. 

Maguire's club-mate Jadon Sancho has not earned a recall, though in-form Marcus Rashford joins Toney and Harry Kane among England's striker options.

England travel to Naples to face Italy in a re-run of the Euro 2020 final next Thursday, before hosting Ukraine at Wembley Stadium three days later.

England squad: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Newcastle United), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal); Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Maddison (Leicester City), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (West Ham); Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford).

Related items

  • Xavi’s new Barcelona deal ‘shows the faith in the project’ Xavi’s new Barcelona deal ‘shows the faith in the project’

    Xavi believes his Barcelona contract extension reflects the faith the club has in his project as he prepares for Tuesday night’s LaLiga clash with Mallorca.

    The Barca boss penned a contract extension until 2025 last week before overseeing a dramatic 3-2 win over Celta Vigo that made it five wins and one draw from their six league games this season.

    Xavi believes his side did not play well on Saturday, when they scored three times in the last nine minutes to overturn a two-goal deficit, but credited his players for keeping themselves top of the table.

    “We didn’t play well against Celta,” Xavi said.

    “But we won and put ourselves top of the table and I got to extend my contract, which shows that the club has its faith in our project.”

    Barca next travel to lowly Mallorca, who have won one of their opening six matches and lost 5-3 at Girona on Saturday, but Xavi expects a tough test.

    “Mallorca is a difficult opponent,” he added.

    “They have a lot to offer in defence and work very well for each other. They are physically very strong and have direct approach players like (Vedat) Muriqi and (Sergi) Darder and this won’t be an easy away trip against a team that wants to bounce back after such a big loss as the one to Girona.”

    The Catalan giants have started their LaLiga title defence in style, having scored 16 times (joint most with Girona in the league), but Xavi admitted he still wants to improve in attacking areas.

    He said: “We are competing well, and in general we’re playing good football. But I’d still like to see more mobility from my forwards and we need to attack spaces better.

    “We can get so much more out of this attack, they need to work more on their positioning. But even though we had a bad game against Celta, we are on the right track.

    “One of the best things about this squad is its versatility. We have different kinds of player for different positions. Players like Sergi Roberto, Gavi, Joao Cancelo, (Ilkay) Gundogan, Joao Felix, (Jules) Kounde and (Ronald) Araujo who can adapt so well.”

  • Massimiliano Allegri wants immediate response from ‘angry’ Juve to shock defeat Massimiliano Allegri wants immediate response from ‘angry’ Juve to shock defeat

    Massimiliano Allegri has called on his “angry” Juventus squad to return to winning ways when they host high-flying Lecce.

    Juventus missed the chance to go top of Serie A on Saturday after they slumped to a surprise 4-2 defeat at Sassuolo.

    The Bianconeri had claimed 10 points from an unbeaten start, but came unstuck at the Mapei Stadium as Sassuolo battled to a second league win.

    “Tomorrow we have to get back to winning ways to immediately move on from the bad loss to Sassuolo,” said Allegri.

    “The team are angry and sorry for what happened, but at the same time they’re motivated. There’s a real desire to get back on the pitch as soon as possible.

    “We had a bad night, we made mistakes that allowed our opponents to win the game, but we didn’t play badly.

    “We didn’t defend well, and individual mistakes cost us. I hope the home support will give us that extra boost against Lecce. We need to have the right attitude, be proactive and, above all, positive. It will be so important to get three points.”

    Third-placed Lecce will head to the Allianz Stadium unbeaten from their opening five league fixtures following three wins and two draws.

    They sit one point ahead of Juventus, and four back from leaders Inter Milan, who have enjoyed a perfect start to the season.

    “Lecce are a solid team, and they’re excellently coached by Roberto D’Aversa,” added Allegri.

    “They’re a technical side and it’s not a coincidence that they’re still unbeaten. (Director of football) Pantaleo Corvino has put together a very competitive squad, and even last year too. It will be a good game.”

  • Sarina Wiegman says England clash with her native Netherlands ‘very special’ Sarina Wiegman says England clash with her native Netherlands ‘very special’

    England boss Sarina Wiegman admits it will be “very special” when her side take on her native Netherlands in Tuesday’s Nations League contest in Utrecht.

    Wiegman played for the Dutch national team before overseeing their Euro 2017 win on home soil and finishing as runners-up at the 2019 World Cup in France.

    The 53-year-old, who has subsequently matched those managerial achievements with England, told a press conference that being back in her home country with the Lionesses was “very nice, a little bit strange too – of course I have some memories here”.

    She added: “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. It’s just very special to be here and to play the opponents.

    “Of course we know each other really well, I know the staff, most of the staff didn’t change that much, or the players. Lots of people will be in the stands that I know.”

    The match is England’s second in Group A1 after they beat Scotland 2-1 in Sunderland on Friday, when the Netherlands opened their campaign with a 2-1 loss away to Belgium.

    Wiegman said: “We had a good review on the (Scotland) match.

    “We want to do a couple of things a little better, and keep doing the things that we did really well, bring that to the next level too – that’s what we talked about, and then tomorrow we go again.

    “I think if you look at the stats against Belgium they (the Netherlands) had pretty good stats. You see how the game developed and they were a little bit unlucky, and Belgium took advantage of that.

    “Of course they want to do well because their goal also is to come first in the group, so with the first loss they really want to do well tomorrow and have a good result. That is what we expect.”

    The Nations League offers two qualification places for the Paris 2024 Olympics, with England the nominated home nations team aiming to secure a spot for Great Britain.

    To do that they will need to win their group to advance to the Nations League’s last four, and then reach the final, or come third should France make the final.

    Wiegman said she had every member of her squad available for Tuesday’s game, including Alessia Russo, who sat out the Scotland contest – she had joined the group later than others following some recuperation, having played in Champions League qualifying matches for Arsenal earlier this month.

    Wiegman was joined at the press conference by Russo’s fellow forward Lauren Hemp, scorer of England’s second goal against Scotland.

    The 23-year-old Manchester City player said of the Dutchwoman: “Sarina is a fantastic coach. Ever since she got the job I feel like she’s taken this team to a whole new level, and for me personally I’m learning every single day.

    “I feel like I’m getting so much better and feeling so much more confident as the days go by under Sarina. She’s unbelievable.”

    Meanwhile, Wiegman has paid tribute to Megan Rapinoe after the two-time World Cup winner, who has been an influential figure in the women’s game both on and off the pitch, played her final game for the United States before retirement, a 2-0 win over South Africa.

    Wiegman said of Rapinoe’s legacy: “I think she is one of the most important players. I think the US were the trailblazers in women’s football, and also (for) the position of women in society.

    “I think we should be all very thankful for what she leaves behind. I have so much respect for her.”

    Of her own players driving change, she added: “I think this group of women are very conscious of society too and using the platform in a positive way to change society.

    “They are so outspoken and well spoken, they articulate themselves so well.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.