Ivan Toney continued his electrifying form with a double Brentford beat Brighton 2-0 – So will England allow him to be left out?
Toney made a great late save for the opening kickoff in Friday’s win and scored a penalty, which he won when Joel Veltman was fouled.
That takes him to 55 goals in 100 games since joining Brentford from Peterborough in 2020.
But what’s more, he is level on Premier League goals with England’s first-choice striker Harry Kane with eight this season.
Only Manchester City phenom Erling Haaland, with 15, has more.
In 2022, only Kane (21) and Son Heung-min (18) have scored more Premier League goals than Toney’s 15.
Toney has also never missed a penalty in the Premier League, admitting that part of his success is thinking about “the beach and cocktails”.
Now, is there any reason why Gareth Southgate could do with a good penalty taker when he names his World Cup squad next month?
“I think about being on a beach with a cocktail”
Toney, 26, spent the majority of his career in the Football League until promotion to Brentford in 2021.
If he plays for Qatar, it would be his international debut at any age level. He was in England’s national team in the last Nations League matches, but did not play.
“I see myself at the top, I see myself as the best player on the pitch. You have to have that mentality,” he said after the win over Brighton.
“I’m trying to do the best I can for the team and if it’s enough to get on the plane to the World Cup, then so be it.
“All I can do is do my job, and then that will be enough. If I get to the World Cup, I hope to get some minutes.”
Brentford manager Thomas Frank said: “I think it’s getting closer and closer [to being alongside world-class strikers].
“If you want to create a top goalscorer, they have to be technically very good, the way they connect with the ball, the way they connect with the ball, the left foot, the right, the free kick against Leeds, the chip, he’s technically very good. It’s just that he got that character about him too.”
The Dane added that if he was England manager, he would be in his World Cup squad. “It’s up to Gareth to choose but Ivan has something special that a lot of people don’t have,” he said.
“It would be great if they got their first title, it would be amazing. It would be the first time for this club in 80 years.
“I’m biased, but I think it’s perfect for the team if you want that flexibility for the team.”
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Toney’s penalty kill record is outstanding – he scored 25 of his 26 career attempts. His only miss came in Peterborough’s 4-0 League One rout of Barnsley in 2018 when Adam Davies had his spot-kick saved.
He has scored 20 goals for Brentford, including eight in the Premier League. Only two players in the competition have taken more shots without missing: Yaya Toure and Dimitar Berbatov.
“I don’t know where I’m going until I kick the ball for penalties,” Toney admitted. “The doorman tries to give me the word, but I walk away, I think about different things, being on a beach with a cocktail.”
Last November, just four months after Toney became an established Premier League player, Frank named him the best penalty taker in the world.
“I’m glad I said it so early,” Frank said. “He protects me. Looking beyond the puck, I see coolness, technique and strategy.”
If Toney moves to Qatar, it will mark a remarkable rise for the player who started out in League Two at Northampton before moving to Newcastle, where he made just two Premier League appearances.
He had loan spells with Barnsley, Shrewsbury, Scunthorpe and Wigan before joining Peterborough on a permanent deal and then Brentford.
“It’s good to have good managers, but if the player doesn’t listen or has the wrong attitude, he doesn’t stand a chance,” former Dublin Premier League striker Dion told BBC Radio 5 Live. “Toney must have said to himself ‘I have to take in all this information’.”
Can Southgate ignore him?
The former Dublin England international believes Toney could not only go to Qatar but also start with the Three Lions.
Bar Kane, Toney has passed comfortably all rivals for the half-forward slot – Roma’s Tammy Abraham, Newcastle’s Callum Wilson and Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
“He could have quite easily started for England right now,” Dublin told BBC Radio 5 Live. “Defenses would be scared to play against him because he’s finding ways to score that no one else can. When you’re in that kind of shape, give him the ball.”
England have won their only World Cup shootout, against Colombia in 2018, and lost the Euro 2020 final to Italy.
On Sky Sports, Jamie Carragher – who lost on penalties in England’s 2006 loss to Portugal – said: “Is his penalty record a reason to take him to Qatar?
“That record is absolutely amazing. You know it’s a goal before you take the penalty. It’s all in the eyes.
“If England are going to do well in the World Cup they will probably have to win penalties. Toney is not a bad player to be available.
“I don’t see a huge range of strikers pushing Harry Kane. That penalty record must give him a stronger reason than the people he’s fighting for. He’s got to go.”
Gary Nevillen, another former England defender, said: “I played in eight tournaments and got knocked out with five penalty kicks.
“It would be a big risk not to have him.”