Brentford striker Ivan Toney said on Tuesday he has set his sights on winning a place in England’s World Cup squad after his “surreal” call-up for the forthcoming Nations League matches.
Uncapped Toney earned his berth in Gareth Southgate’s group to face Italy and Germany following an impressive start to the Premier League season.
The 26-year-old has scored five times in seven top-flight games, including a hat-trick in a 5-2 win against Leeds.
Toney also netted 14 times in all competitions last term in Brentford’s first season in the English top-flight for 74 years.
With England boss Southgate still looking for a striker to serve as back-up to Harry Kane at the World Cup, Toney knows he has a chance to book a seat on the flight to Qatar in November.
“It is a massive opportunity for me to get myself on the plane,” the forward told reporters.
“But I’ve just got to go game by game. Hopefully I’ll get a few minutes in the games we have.”
Toney’s unexpected rise has come after spending most of his career labouring in obscurity in the lower leagues.
He spent loan spells at Scunthorpe, Shrewsbury, Wigan and Barnsley while on Newcastle’s books before finally finding a home with Peterborough in 2018.
Toney flourished at Peterborough, securing a 2020 move to Brentford that has propelled him into the Premier League and now the England squad.
The striker’s road to the top is radically different from most of the other players in the England squad but he said he was not surprised by his call-up.
“I never doubted it,” he said.
“I feel like I have full confidence in myself. I have just got to keep working hard and it makes it that much sweeter when you get the chance.
“I never played for any of the other age groups so going straight to the senior squad is a big achievement. I’m proud of it and I wouldn’t want it to go any other way.”
England face Italy in Milan in the Nations League on Friday before hosting Germany at Wembley three days later.
It is a far cry from the start of Toney’s career, when he failed to make the grade at Newcastle.
“So surreal. I feel like sitting here in an England top is such a privilege and is massive for me and my family and also my club.”
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