Brentford star Ivan Toney on Gareth Southgate’s radar as England boss urges Tammy Abraham to keep up Roma form

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Gareth Southgate has opened the door to future England call-ups for Tammy Abraham and Brentford’s Ivan Toney, saying the battle to be Harry Kane’s deputy will come down to goals.

Abraham, who won the last of his six caps against Iceland in November 2020, is rebuilding his career with Jose Mourinho’s Roma after leaving Chelsea in the summer, while Toney has seamlessly adapted to the Premier League, directly contributing to four goals in his first six appearances.

Southgate on Thursday recalled Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins for the World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary, with Patrick Bamford and Dominic Calvert-Lewin both injured, but says Abraham and Toney are both prominent in his thoughts.

“Tammy has started well,” the England manager said. “It’s quite early stages. I have exchanged messages with Jose just to keep a track on that. He’s another player who we know has been with us before.

“We are probably only talking about six or seven English strikers, really, that are either playing in the Premier League or, as Tammy is, playing in one of the big European leagues. So it’s not a huge pool to cover at the moment. We will keep monitoring those guys really closely.

“We have been very impressed with [Ivan]. We were impressed with him at Brentford last year. We have watched him this season, so we know all about him. We weren’t looking to take an additional striker for this camp but he is definitely a player we are monitoring closely. I think he has had a really good start to his Premier League career – as Brentford have had.

“We want a player who can firstly score goals,” Southgate added. “Can they score goals at the highest level? Can they score goals in the big matches against the best teams and the best defences? That is going to determine, in the end, the top level of players.

“Toney is clearly a much greater threat in terms of his aerial presence and his ability to flick things on and attack crosses. That suits the way Brentford play – they play to those strengths. Ollie is probably the best pressing centre-forward in the league, for example. But, in the end, it comes down to scoring goals.”

There was a recall for Abraham’s former Chelsea team-mate Fikayo Tomori, who is also flourishing in Italy with AC Milan, but teenagers Mason Greenwood and Jude Bellingham were both left out, as Southgate manages their minutes.

“With Fikayo and Tammy now moving to Italy and Tripps [Kieran Trippier] in Spain, I think it’s a great life experience for them and can only make them more rounded people which will help their football as well,” Southgate said.

“For a football education as a defender there is probably nowhere better to learn than in Italy, frankly. So Fik’s really impressed us. There are a couple of other young defenders as well. Ben White continues to improve, Marc Guehi at Crystal Palace is on a good path as well."

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