Ivan Toney says he won’t pass up his chance at England with the World Cup side less than two months away from his selection.
The Brentford striker has received his first call-up from Gareth Southgate for the Nations League games against Italy and Germany this month.
Toney has never played for the England youth teams, but since Brentford’s promotion to the Premier League has caught the eye of the English manager.
It is the realization of a lifelong dream for the striker who is determined to seize the opportunity he now has with the chance to make it to the World Cup in Qatar on the horizon.
England’s 28-man squad completely against Italy and Germany
goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale.
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Conor Coady, Eric Dier, Marc Guehi, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker.
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount, Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse.
Ahead: Tammy Abraham, Jarrod Bowen, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Ivan Toney.
“I have never doubted it. I have complete confidence in myself, I feel that I have to keep working hard and it makes it all the more fun when you get the chance,” Toney told a news conference on Tuesday.
“I’ve never played for any of the age groups, I went straight to the senior team. It’s a great achievement, I’m very proud and I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any other way.
“This is my chance now. I’m excited and confident and I’m very hungry. I’ve worked right now and it’s here now. I’m not going to let it pass me by. I am I will with both seize hands and make the most of the opportunity I have.
“There’s never any pressure – I don’t think I’ve ever felt pressure in my career so far. It’s more excitement and it’s such a privilege to play alongside such quality players and represent my country. I’m going with the flow and hopefully make the best of it.
“It’s a huge opportunity to get myself on the plane, but we have to go from day to day. Hopefully I’ll get a few minutes with the next two games we have and take my chance. Hopefully it’s enough to see me in the team.”
When asked what Southgate has told him so far, Toney revealed: “Just be yourself, you’re here for a reason and you’re not here to make up the numbers. Just do what you’ve got here and be yourself.
“Those are the most important things he has told me to do, so I’m sure I will and hopefully it’s enough to keep me in the squad for the World Cup.”
Toney has previously spoken about the sacrifices his family has made for his football career and revealed how he told them about his call-up to England.
“From the beginning, my sister took me to football and did her college work while waiting for me to take me home while my mom and dad were at work,” he said.
“My mother has played a huge part, sometimes making sure that I am eating and not herself. She played her part enormously, as did my father by taking me all over the country, whether it was trials here or there, he came to support me at every game, just like my other sister.
“Everyone has played a part, so it’s a little sweeter when I’m sitting here in an English summit now representing the country. It’s not just me who’s done this, everyone around me has played a part and I can’t thank you enough.
“I was driving to practice and the Brentford chief called me. I was a little late so I thought he called about my timekeeping. Then he said, ‘I’m privileged to tell you that you’ve been called up to the senior England squad’, and I never had anything to say.
“I was driving and I wouldn’t say I’d gone out of zone because that wouldn’t be the best thing to do, but I thought ‘wow I’m really going to play with the England senior squad’. That didn’t happen …really registering, I answered the gaffer’s questions, but it still didn’t go in.
“I immediately called my parents, we have a family chat, I called everyone on video and told the news. They screamed for about 20 minutes, my father beeped everywhere he was, they must have thought he was going crazy.
“It was a huge moment for my whole family and such a great achievement to represent my country.”
Jordan Henderson has joined the England squad after recovering from injury. The Liverpool captain arrived at St George’s Park on Monday night to replace Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who will undergo shoulder surgery.
Toney: Hopefully one day I’ll be in Haaland, Jesus’ shoes
Toney, asked if he thinks he will ever score as many goals as Erling Haaland and Gabriel Jesus, suggested that he would one day like to be in their shoes with the service they get at Manchester City and Arsenal respectively.
“It’s easy to say that if I was on their team I would score goals. But when you play in teams like them, they dominate more possession, so there are more opportunities to score goals.”
“But you still have to put it in the back of the net. Until I get there we’ll have to see. Until then I’m not so sure. They do have decent players backing them, so hopefully one day I’ll be in their shoes and get that chance to score goals like Haaland and Jesus are.”
Grealish: Criticism of Southgate ‘very harsh’
Jack Grealish believes Southgate’s criticism over the summer has been “very harsh” given the success he has enjoyed as England manager during this period.
While the country is still looking for its first senior men’s trophy since 1966, the Three Lions have never been closer to Sir Alf Ramsey’s heroes than the last two major tournaments.
Southgate led England to the World Cup semi-final four years ago, which was as surprising as it was unforgettable, before falling into a penalty shootout of Euro 2020 glory last summer.
But the former defender has never strayed far from criticism, coming under fire after a challenging four-game Nations League slog in June ended with a 4-0 Molineux mauling by impatient Hungary.
“I think it was tough,” fan favorite Grealish said of Southgate’s response.
“Last year we reached the final and then the match in Hungary (we lost 1-0) at the beginning of the last camp, I think the last time we lost a match over 90 minutes, maybe Belgium was in November 2020 or something.
“So, I think it’s very hard, especially (as you saw at) the World Cup and the European Championship how well the team has done and the manager himself.
“I thought it was obviously hard, but sometimes that’s what you get when you’re English. I’ve certainly had my share!”
Capello: Are England mentally strong enough to win World Cup?
Meanwhile, Fabio Capello has spoken to Sky Sports and expressed his views on Southgate and England’s chances at the World Cup.
The former England boss has questioned whether England’s players are mentally strong enough to lift the trophy.
“I’m really interested to see who comes out on top at the World Cup in Qatar,” he told Sky Sports.
“When I coached the team as a former England manager in September, October and November, we were ready to take on the best teams in the world.
“In March and April it was so-so because the physical level was dropping and we found it very tough in June.
“I want to test my theory that England are a great team at this time of the year, so besides talented players and a top coach can they be really competitive and win a big tournament like the World Cup?”
He added: “You said Southgate is under pressure. The only doubt I have is in the minds of the players.
“The English players feel a sense of responsibility. They may come close to success and feel that sense of responsibility as a burden on their shoulders.”
“If we look at the second half of the [Euros] final against Italy after scoring they stopped playing and what surprised me was that they were already wasting 30 minutes of time. They were wasting time and didn’t want to play anymore, so they didn’t. That seems to be a mental problem. It is a physical or mental problem.
“We will find out after the World Cup in Qatar.”
Warming up schedule World Cup in England
England are preparing for this month’s Nations League matches. The Three Lions will face Italy on Friday, September 23 at 7:45 PM and will play against Germany on Monday, September 26 at 7:45 PM.
England Group B World Cup matches
November 21st: Iran (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan) – kick-off 1:00 PM
November 25th: United States (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor) – Kick-off 7pm
Nov 29: Wales (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan) – Kick-off 7pm
Choose your England starting eleven for the 2022 World Cup
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