IVAN TONEY is a good friend of mine so I am very chuffed and pleased he has got his England call-up.
It has been a long journey and he is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
He never made it in the England age groups but he has still played at a really good level for a really long time.
He left Newcastle and dropped down divisions to prove he could deliver.
And with the way the England set-up is now, I think his story could become even rarer in years to come so, when we see a story like Ivan’s, we have to champion it.
There were even a lot of question marks when Brentford bought him from Peterborough but he is a proper finisher and an all-round No 9.
Aside from blistering pace, he is good at everything, including his insane penalty record, which Gareth Southgate would have had on his mind after how the Euros ended.
His Brentford boss Thomas Frank has even said in the past that Ivan should be in the squad purely based on that alone — but he has so many other strings to his bow.
If he was doing what he is doing now at a more glamorous club we would be waxing lyrical about him.
But because he is at Brentford, it is a bit more unfashionable.
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This guy has proven for a few years now that he can do it on the next level.
I remember Ivan was linked with Arsenal and Manchester United previously and he would have shone there.
He would have been a perfect fit for United in terms of what they currently need up front, as well as Arsenal until Gabriel Jesus redefined that role for them.
If he has the year he will likely have, even Chelsea will be keeping an eye on him.
He could go there long-term and be a real success under Graham Potter.
You look at the certain type of striker nowadays, your Darwin Nunez or Erling Haaland who are 6ft-plus and are mobile and can score all different types of goals, you have to put Ivan in that category.
He has always been a humble kid but he is very confident in his ability and when you score the amount he has over the past two years, you would back yourself.
And he will certainly back himself to impose his character and personality on this current England squad and training camp under Southgate ahead of the World Cup.
If he was doing what he is doing now at a more glamorous club we would be waxing lyrical about him.”
What makes me say that is how his game evolved massively simply by playing briefly with Christian Eriksen last season at Brentford.
He used to come deep a lot and yet a few months with Eriksen saw him stay high on the defender’s shoulder and he grabbed more goals.
When he is around better players he lifts and raises his own game and being at England will only see him kick on and do more.
Ivan won’t get intimidated and he will take his game to a whole new level.
He really will flourish if he is given the time on the pitch by Southgate.
You’d like to think Southgate is seriously considering Ivan for the World Cup, alongside the likes of Tammy Abraham.
We all know Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane are already going.
He has seen enough of them already. So, in these upcoming fixtures you have to give Ivan and Tammy that chance and experience.
If he has the year he will likely have, Chelsea will be keeping an eye on him.
Give them a full game each and see how they do, rather than bringing either on for 20 minutes.
Give the pair of them a proper challenge and see if they can sustain their club form at international level against two of the very best in Italy and Germany.
Also, Southgate will be arguably more interested to see how Ivan fits in around this group off the pitch.
At World Cups, it is more about the culture and how you mix with the lads socially in a different country for almost a month.
Elsewhere in the squad, there has been a lot of talk about the inclusion of some names who either aren’t in form or haven’t played much this season.
I am talking of Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Kalvin Phillips and Ben Chilwell.
But put yourself in the shoes of Southgate. He has never been let down by these players in an England shirt.
Last time they were in a tournament they lost a final on penalties.
Why would you now say someone like Maguire needs to be dropped because of some recent poor form for Manchester United, who aren’t playing well themselves?
If he was at Manchester City and not playing well, when the team was flying, perhaps he needs to be dropped but it is not like that.
It is fans getting too caught up in the short-term. I can see why Southgate has picked the players he has but he can never win.
Even if he picked his squad based on a poll on Twitter, there would still be complaints.
He will live and die by his decisions but he knows that all too well by now.