Copy of 2023-03-15T191642Z_1950330989_UP1EJ3F1HJR8X_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-ENGLAND-SOU-BRE-REPORT-1679142410464
Ivan Toney has been called up for England’s Euro qualifiers - even though he is facing a lengthy FA ban. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: I think Gareth Southgate was right to select uncapped striker Ivan Toney in the squad for this month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine but his decision has been met with controversy.

The Brentford striker has admitted a number of FA betting charges between 2017 and 2021. There is no suggestion that he placed wagers on any matches in which he was involved but he seems destined for a lengthy ban before the end of the season. He has been in red-hot form this season and is the joint-third top scorer in the Premier League. His tally of 14 strikes is level with that of Marcus Rashford, and only behind those of Erling Haaland and Harry Kane.

Quick to judge

The criticism of Toney is more reflective of a society that is quick to judge individuals for their past mistakes. We all have things hanging over our heads at some point in life.

He deserves his place in the England squad due to his current form, and I think he should have been picked for the World Cup in Qatar. He would have been a valuable addition to the team. Harry Kane is a strong striker but having a back-up option like Toney would have been very handy.

Furthermore, Toney’s confidence and hunger to prove himself would have kept Kane on his toes and motivated him to perform better.

Slow FA process

His selection is a positive move that will add depth to the team’s attacking options. The criticism surrounding his past is unfair, and the slow FA process has left him in an uncomfortable position.

Meanwhile, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s exclusion from the squad has also raised questions. While the Liverpool player’s recent form and defensive abilities have come under scrutiny, it is important to consider whether the criticism is warranted. The narrative that he cannot defend is becoming a bit too much. While he may not be a great defender, I don’t believe there are many great defenders around. Kieran Trippier, Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Harry Maguire, and Eric Dier, are not great, yet they don’t appear to be criticized in the same way Alexander-Arnold.