Ivan Toney gears up for Brentford return with hat-trick as Arsenal and Chelsea sent reminder

Ivan Toney gears up for Brentford return with hat-trick as Arsenal and Chelsea sent reminder

Ivan Toney geared up for his return to competitive action with Brentford and offered transfer suitors Arsenal and Chelsea a timely reminder of his enduring quality with a hat-trick on Saturday.

The England striker netted a treble for the Bees' B team against Southampton's Under-23 side in a behind-closed-doors friendly match at Wheatsheaf Park in Staines.

Toney turned home Kyreece Lisbie's cross after just four minutes of Saturday afternoon's match before heading in two Ethan Brierley deliveries either side of the interval as Neil MacFarlane's Brentford ran out comfortable 5-1 winners.

It was the perfect warm-up for the 27-year-old, who was not able to feature in the FA Cup third round draw with Wolves on Friday night but is eligible to make his return to first-team football when Brentford return to Premier League competition at home against Nottingham Forest at the Gtech Community Stadium on January 20.

Toney has yet to play at all this season after being suspended from all football-related activity for eight months in May last year and fined £50,000 after admitting to 232 breaches of the Football Association's (FA) betting rules between between February 25 2017 and January 23 2021.

Brentford initially hardly skipped a beat without their attacking talisman as Bryan Mbeumo stepped up to the plate to shoulder the goalscoring burden, but with the Cameroon forward since sidelined with injury Thomas Frank's side have now suffered five consecutive Premier League defeats to drop to 16th in the table and only four points above the relegation zone.

Toney's return will offer the Bees an enormous boost at a critical point in their season, though there remains uncertainty over whether he will remain at the club beyond the end of the January transfer window.

Arsenal and Chelsea are both known to be interested in signing the player as they seek respective attacking boosts of their own, though Brentford want between £80million and £100m for his services and have yet to receive any bids so far this month.

“The very short answer: yes”, manager Frank replied when asked again before the FA Cup draw with Wolves if Toney would stay at Brentford this month. “He is a Brentford player; he is here. Clearly we miss a few offensive players; I can’t see why we would sell him, and I would love to have him for a longer time.

“If I ever, ever could recommend [his sale], and it’s not for me to say yes or no — that’s Phil [Giles, director of football] or Matthew [Benham, owner] — then it needs to be for an unbelievable price. So he will stay here.”