Brentford striker Ivan Toney said on Tuesday he has his sights set on earning a place in England’s World Cup squad after his “surreal” call-up for upcoming Nations League matches.
No limits Toney earned his place in Gareth Southgate’s group to face Italy and Germany after an impressive start to the Premier League season.
The 26-year-old has scored five goals in seven top-flight games, including a hat-trick in a 5-2 win against Leeds.
Toney also scored 14 times in all competitions last season in Brentford’s first season in the English top flight in 74 years.
With England boss Southgate still looking for a striker to serve as Harry Kane’s World Cup understudy, Toney knows he has a chance to book a seat on the flight to Qatar in November.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to get on the plane,” the striker told reporters.
“But I have to go game by game. Hopefully I’ll get a few minutes in the games that we have.”
Toney’s unexpected rise came after spending most of his career working in the dark in the lower leagues.
He spent loan spells at Scunthorpe, Shrewsbury, Wigan and Barnsley while on the Newcastle books before finally finding a home with Peterborough in 2018.
Toney flourished at Peterborough, securing a 2020 move to Brentford that has propelled him to the Premier League and now the England team.
The striker’s path to the top is radically different from most 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 just have 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 first team is a huge achievement. I’m proud of that and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.”
England take on Italy in Milan in the Nations League on Friday before hosting Germany at Wembley three days later.
It is a long way from the start of Toney’s career, when he failed to qualify at Newcastle.
“So surreal. I feel like sitting here in an England shirt is a huge privilege and it’s huge for me, my family and also my club.”