England squad: Ivan Toney earns first call-up as Eric Dier returns for Nations League games

·3-min read
In the mix: Ivan Toney  (REUTERS)
In the mix: Ivan Toney (REUTERS)

England have called up Brentford striker Ivan Toney for the first time and recalled Tottenham’s Eric Dier for the upcoming Nations League matches against Italy and Germany.

Toney, 26, is level with Harry Kane as the top-scoring English player in the Premier League this season with five goals, and two assists, to his name.

But he has never been capped at any England level before and will be the first Brentford player to play for the Three Lions since the 1930s should he feature in the upcoming fixtures.

Manager Gareth Southgate has also rewarded Dier’s excellent form at Spurs by ending his 18-month exile from the squad. The Spurs defender is now looking for his first minutes at international level since November 2020.

Dier has been a mainstay in Antonio Conte’s side, playing every available minute this season. The 28-year-old has been in touch with Southgate over the last few months and has spoken about his desire to get back on the international stage in recent weeks.

His selection comes amid concerns about the lack of football being played by his central defensive rivals, including both Manchester United’s Harry Maguire and Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings in recent weeks. Maguire has been called up but United team-mates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho both miss out.

Rashford has not played for England since missing a penalty in the shootout defeat to Italy in the European Championship Final. There had been a clamour for him to return after his goals against Liverpool and Arsenal in recent weeks, but there are doubts over his fitness.

Marcus Rashford faces fight for his World Cup spot. (AFP via Getty Images)
Marcus Rashford faces fight for his World Cup spot. (AFP via Getty Images)

Sancho, 22, also misses out and has not been called up in 11 months. It follows a torrid first season at Old Trafford after his big-money move from Borussia Dortmund, though there have been signs of improvement under new manager Erik ten Hag.

There is immense competition in attack, with the likes of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling all vying for spots in the team. Jarrod Bowen, who has struggled for form during the early stages of this season, is also included. Chelsea’s Mason Mount is considered a midfielder.

The full squad sees a host of familiar names, including captain Harry Kane, who is now just three goals behind Wayne Rooney in the England all-time scoring charts. Toney will compete with the skipper and Roma’s Tammy Abraham for minutes.

Stability of selection is important for Southgate, as these are England’s last competitive matches before the World Cup in Qatar, which begins in November and runs through until Christmas.

England manager Gareth Southgate. (The FA via Getty Images)
England manager Gareth Southgate. (The FA via Getty Images)

England squad in full

Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Conor Coady, Eric Dier, Marc Guehe, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Fiyako Tomori, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse

Forwards: Tammy Abraham, Jarrod Bowen, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Buyako Saka, Raheem Sterling, Ivan Toney