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Toney Makes History!

The International break draws to a close as players return to their clubs to play competitive football again. In the build up to the Euros this summer, the friendlies England played during this break have raised both concern and excitement for the nation. Concern because of the results and excitement for the individual performances some players displayed. Brentford striker Ivan Toney was amongst those with the delicate touch, his first international goal was a historic one and may have boosted his claim to a seat on the plane to Germany.

Toney's goal in the 17th minute against Belgium marked him as the first Brentford player to ever score on the international stage for England. His composed penalty kick is a monumental moment for his career and club, who he has represented with pride. The penalty was awarded after some brilliant work from young talent Kobbie Mainoo to shift the ball forwards. The 18-year-old found Jude Bellingham who slipped a clever pass into Toney. Toney was then too sharp for Jan Vertonghen and got across the Belgian before being brought down.

Looking around the pitch there was only one obvious penalty taker. Having won the penalty Toney stepped up to convert despite the commentators best efforts to jinx the striker quoting he is the "King of the spot kicks." Toney joked in a recent interview on Brentford Instagram saying, "Imagine I missed it then." Of course Toney wasn't fazed and backed the statement of channel 4 commentator Steve Bower to calmly slot the ball into the bottom left corner.

That goal from the spot now means out of the last 31 penalties Toney has taken he has scored a whopping 29. Meaning his conversion rate from 12 yards is 93.55%.

In addition to scoring, Toney's all-round performance was impressive. He demonstrated great qualities and offered England something a little different. Holding up the ball, bringing others into play and being a threat in an around the box, Belgium defenders struggled to silence the intelligent Englishmen. It was a performance that contributed massively to earning England a draw and has now likely given Gareth Southgate a massive headache.

Rumour has it Southgate favours only taking one striker to Germany as a backup to first choice Harry Kane. This potentially means Toney or inform Ollie Watkins could miss out. Who knows what decisions Southgate will make, both Toney and Watkins may still be on the plane as Watkins provides versatility to take up wider positions whereas arguably Toney does his best work centrally.

Returning to West London with an international goal under his belt could do Toney a world of confidence. Toney has failed to hit the target in his last five Premier League matches and with the Bees hosting Manchester United next, fans will hope he has got his shooting boots on again. The remaining games of this season could be vital in Toney securing an England spot this summer. He has got to deliver and portray a consistency within his performances to persuade Southgate into selecting him.

There is no doubt Toney is a proven goal scorer. He registered 20 goals last season and hit the ground running when returning from his eight-month ban. The goals have dried up now but there is an opportunity for Toney to seize his chance in a strengthened Brentford squad. The international break has awarded those still unfit time to gain some sharpness to be available for Thomas Frank. Frank spoke after the Burnley defeat and said "It's good for the international guys to go away: we know that some will refresh a bit, some can train harder and some will come back from injury. This indicates the recoveries of those behind the scenes and not called up for international duties are going well.

Frank also said, "Bryan took a step further down the line to be closer to potentially starting." Mbeumo featured off the bench verses Burnley and provided the assist for Kristoffer Ajer's header.

Before injury Mbeumo was on 7 goals and 2 assists. He was a player that shone and stepped up to the plate in Toney's absence however now the pair can play together again Brentford should see better quality in the final third. Many will believe earning a place at the Euros will all be down to Toney but Mbeumo could have a big part to play. As a duo they're a force to be reckoned with and there is a certainty that with Mbeumo on the pitch Toney will receive better service.

Now that Mbeumo may be fit to start a game Toney can isolate the central positions more. Beforehand Toney had to do a lot of work out wide as well as in the middle of the pitch. Mbeumo can now do that work. Frank knows it's more effective to deploy Mbeumo into channels as his pace and skill is what hurt teams. Toney can still run the line but can favour playing off the centre backs more predominantly as he is more of a nuisance when up against them.

So, Toney being called back to England to play at Euros could be aided by Mbeumo's return. Toney will have more goal scoring and creative chances with Mbeumo on the pitch meaning greater statistical contributions.

Whilst statistics can speak volume on how well a player is doing, it isn't all about how many goals or assists a player provides. It also depends on the profile of a player and as of now it would appear Southgate is very interested by the skill set of Toney as a striker.

Brentford's next game is on the 30th of March at home to Manchester United. Frank's men are on a bad run of from losing 13 out of their last 15 matches in the Premier League. They cannot afford to keep this up with the relegation battle being so tight yet may face a tricky task in winning all three points against a Manchester United team hungry for Champions League football. It's a game where Toney can make a statement to further send a message to Gareth Southgate and of course impress Erik Ten Hag who is speculated to be interested in the forward. Unfortunately for Ten Hag, recent news suggests Toney would likely snub any offer from Manchester United and therefore their hunt for a striker may go on.

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