Ivan Toney is in the form of his life and is ready to make his mark for England.
But Gareth Southgate’s decision to call up the forward is not without controversy, with a potential ban on the horizon for Brentford’s star man.
However, the 27-year-old’s impressive goalscoring displays have been impossible to ignore, after firing the Bees into continental contention this season.
We consider how Toney can have an impact on the international stage, as the Three Lions prepare to face Ukraine in this evening’s European Championship qualifier.
Toney is facing 262 FA charges relating to breaches of betting rules but Southgate was not deterred from selecting him for this England squad.
Explaining his decision, he said: “He [Toney] is playing for his club and available for them, there hasn’t been a trial or any judgement, so I don’t know on what basis we wouldn’t pick him.
“Ivan has been consistent across the season. He is playing really well. I like his presence in games.
“I saw his game against Arsenal where he was outstanding and he deserves his opportunity”
Buzzing with the Bees
Toney has bagged 16 Premier League goals this season, with only Erling Haaland (28) and Harry Kane (21) outscoring the Northampton native.
That record is even more impressive when you consider that he ranks just seventh for shots on target (32), illustrating how clinical he has been for the Bees.
Another consideration for the Three Lions must be his prowess when taking penalties, after costly misses against France in the World Cup and Italy at Euro 2020.
No top-flight player has been more efficient from the spot than Toney, with the marksman scoring 10 from 10 attempts — five of which have come in the current campaign.
A team player
Toney is undoubtedly a combative presence in the final third.
Aleksandar Mitrovic (93) is the only Premier League striker to have won more aerial duels than Brentford’s talisman (86).
He also consistently brings other players into the fold, with the Bees’ frontman ranking joint-third in the league for completed lay-offs (28).
Additionally, Toney has registered four assists, created 20 chances and conjured an impressive 10 big goalscoring opportunities for his team-mates.
Southgate should be able to maximise this skill set for England, with Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden — who have 21 league goals between them — potentially playing off the ex-Peterborough forward.
Former England defender Jamie Carragher has touted Toney as one of the Premier League’s best and believes he can be an influential figure for the Three Lions.
Carragher, 45, said: “He [Toney] is one of the best attacking players in the league.
“I don’t say that lightly because I know there are a lot of great players in the league but when I see some of the things he does, he’s an all-round footballer.
“I still can’t believe he didn’t go to the World Cup. I understand England have a lot of top players but I’d have certainly taken him.
“It’s not because of how many goals he scores but because of how big an influence he is on a game, especially for Brentford. His hold-up play and bringing players in, he is very reminiscent of Kane in some ways.”
Toney could now have a chance to prove himself on the international stage against Ukraine if he is handed his first cap by Southgate.
But the visitors will provide a tough test for England, with an array of elite-level talents in their ranks.
Though he is arguably most likely to appear as a substitute, the former Newcastle striker may be key to breaking down tonight’s opponents at Wembley — with his intelligent hold-up play helping the hosts up the pitch, where their attacking stars can do most damage.
He also offers first-class finishing and composure in offensive areas, so expect the Brentford ace to seize on any opportunities he is handed.