England squad: Gareth Southgate includes ‘nightmare’ player after message from boss | Football | Sport

Gareth Southgate has found space in his latest England squad for Ivan Toney, who Brentford boss Thomas Frank claims is a ‘nightmare’ to play against. The striker is yet to win a cap for the Three Lions but his form this season has warranted the call-up, with 16 Premier League goals so far.

Toney was called up to the senior squad last September but he did not see the pitch. Despite his betting probe, Southgate has shown faith in the Bees talisman by including him in his group to face Italy and Ukraine in forthcoming Euros qualifiers.

Many felt that Toney was harshly overlooked for the World Cup last year and his red-hot form has continued in the Premier League since its resumption. The 27-year-old was on target again as Brentford beat Southampton on Wednesday night, although his call-up may have been signed and sealed long before then.

“It’s a nightmare to play against him,” said Frank after his side thumped Leeds last year. “Also I have said many times he is the best penalty taker in the world, and hopefully I wont get bored saying it.”

Frank has since doubled down on his praise for Toney by sending a message to Southgate in his post-match press conference this week. “It’s up to Gareth to pick the right squad,” said the Dane. “Ivan has done more than enough to be giving Gareth a headache in a positive way.

“If you look at pure goal scorers for England, he is the second-highest goal scorer [in the Premier League] behind [Harry] Kane. If you look at clear number nines, he should be thinking very much about calling him up.

“I don’t think I have any more words to say, I just repeat myself. Big player, character for us, great goal [against Southampton].”

With England set to face Italy in their first match next Thursday, there were several surprise omissions from Southgate’s squad including Ben White, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Raheem Sterling. The Three Lions boss explained his decision to leave White and Alexander-Arnold out by claiming that other right-backs – such as Reece James, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker – are ahead of them in the pecking order.

“The three boys in at right full back we have ahead of those two,” he told reporters on Thursday. “It is the hardest position to pick and is always shifting around on form.

“This is a time in the season when you don’t want to carry too many if they’re not going to play because they can have a break and re-energise. We always give clarity to those that have missed out.”

Sterling, meanwhile, who is one of Southgate’s trusted England regulars, has missed out through injury.

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