England manager Gareth Southgate insists that Brentford striker Ivan Toney could be part of his Three Lions squad at Euro 2024 next year, despite a lengthy ban for breaching betting rules.
Toney is suspended from all football activity for eight months, excluding him from even training at Brentford until September. He will be eligible to return to playing on 16 January 2024, only five months before Euro 2024 in Germany is due to begin.
The Bees star has scored 32 goals across his two Premier League seasons with the club, on top of the 33 he scored en-route to promotion from Championship in 2020/21.
Toney was called up by England for the first time in March, having already admitted to many of the 262 charges brought against him by the FA for contravening strict gambling regulations.
Southgate expressed concern over what Toney does now at a time when he isn’t even able to train in a professional environment for the duration of the summer.
“The ban is the ban. He’s recognised and accepted the punishment. What bothers me is we’ve got to look after people,” the England boss said.
“He’s injured at the moment, what does he do about getting fit? How do we give him some structure over the next few months so that he can develop himself or be a better person at the end of it or have experiences that he might not experience?
“I don’t like the idea we just leave somebody, that they’re not allowed to be part of the football community. I don’t think that’s how we should work, how the best rehabilitation programmes work.”
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Looking ahead to Toney’s eventual return and the role he could play at Euro 2024, Southgate was keen to stress that the door will be open.
“When he comes back, if he plays well, then we’ll pick him,” the boss said.
“It’s not ideal because he’s going to miss a large chunk of the season and you don’t know after that sort of period out, how physically he’s going to adapt and how he’s going to play.
“But it’s possible for him, there would still be time. He’s really impressed us with the way he’s played. I like his personality, his belief and the way he goes about his job. Everything is still possible for him.”