With a possible suspension looming for apparently breaching multiple gambling rules, Ivan Toney was called up by England for its upcoming European Championship qualifiers as a reward for being the third-leading scorer in the Premier League.
It is the second time the Brentford striker has been summoned by England. The first was ahead of Nations League qualifiers in September but he didn’t get onto the field and failed to make the squad for the World Cup a few weeks later.
Toney has scored 16 league goals for Brentford this season – only Erling Haaland and England striker Harry Kane have more – but his future is clouded after being charged with a total of 262 breaches of the Football Association’s gambling laws, dating back to 2017.
Sections of the British media reported this month that Toney has admitted to the majority of the breaches and was facing a lengthy spell out of the game. That led to Toney criticizing the FA about the process behind his impending disciplinary hearing and over what he perceives to be potential lapses of confidentiality as he prepares to argue his case.
The issue hasn’t stopped England coach Gareth Southgate from selecting Toney as one of six forwards in a 25-man squad ahead of Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine.
“The fact is, he is available for his club,” Southgate said about the selection of Toney. “There hasn’t been a trial as yet or any judgment so I don’t know on what basis we wouldn’t pick him.”
They are England’s first games since the national team lost to France the World Cup quarterfinals in December.
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