Brentford’s Ivan Toney was named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the very first time on Thursday.
The former Peterborough and Newcastle United striker has been one of the Premier League’s form players so far in 2022/23 and is more than worthy of international selection.
Over on WhoScored, Toney is the highest-rated English footballer in Europe for the season after scoring five goals and assisting a further three in eight appearances.
The 26-year-old recently scored a magnificent hat-trick in Brentford’s 5-2 home victory over Leeds United, a performance which likely swayed Southgate into picking him for England duty.
Toney will be given opportunities to impress in UEFA Nations League matches against Italy and Germany during the course of the international break.
If he grabs a goal or two, a role at the 2022 World Cup as one of Harry Kane’s understudies surely awaits him.
Toney’s dream five-a-side team
In the days before he received a phone call from Southgate, Toney sat down with InchByInch at Brentford’s training ground and selected his dream five-a-side team, made up of Premier League players past or present.
His teammate Frank Onyeka was a surprise selection in midfield, with Manchester City‘s Kevin De Bruyne getting the nod over the likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes.
The Belgian’s club colleague Ederson was named as the goalkeeper by Toney, with City legend Sergio Aguero leading the line. So yes, no Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer or Cristiano Ronaldo.
And as his one defender in the five-a-side team, the Brentford forward picked Liverpool‘s Virgil van Dijk, although that still didn’t stop him from labelling the Dutch colossus as “too nice”.
Video: Toney picks Van Dijk in dream five-a-side team
On whether he feared Van Dijk as a footballer, Toney said: “Nah, I don’t think, he’s too nice. There’s scarier defenders out there, they look scarier as well. He doesn’t look scary, he’s too nice!”
We’re not sure many fellow professional would agree with you there, Ivan. Although, a few more may at this moment in time after Van Dijk’s shaky start to the 2022/23 season.
The former Southampton man – who is in the conversation to be labelled the Premier League’s greatest ever defender – has been guilty of some uncharacteristic errors, namely in Liverpool’s recent 2-1 defeat to Manchester United.
But all footballers are human at the end of the day and prone to poor spells of form, so write off Van Dijk at your own peril.