Ivan Toney sweats over Euro 2024 spot as Southgate prioritises Kane’s fitness

Gareth Southgate has dented Ivan Toney’s hopes of going to Euro 2024 after warning the striker that ­giving him a chance against Iceland on ­Friday is less important than getting Harry Kane up to speed.

Southgate is due to send his final 26‑man squad to Uefa after full time against Iceland and Toney is in ­danger of being among the seven players who will fail to make it beyond this week’s training camp. The Brentford player was an unused substitute when ­England beat Bosnia and ­Herzegovina 3-0 on Monday and he appears to have slipped behind Ollie Watkins in the battle to provide back-up for Kane.

Opportunities to impress are ­running out, especially as ­Southgate has made it sound unlikely that he will find space in his squad for three No 9s. Toney’s form has dipped at the wrong time – he went 12 games ­without a goal for Brentford at the end of the season – although he is not certain to miss out. The 28-year-old played well in England’s draw with Belgium in March and he will be encouraged by Watkins failing to take his chance after starting against Bosnia.

But the concern for Toney is that Southgate has said Kane will start against Iceland. Kane missed ­Bayern Munich’s final two games with a back injury and the knock-on effect of ­England building the captain’s match fitness before the Euro 2024 finals is that Toney’s ­minutes against Iceland will be limited.

“He will be involved in the game on Friday but I have got to get Harry Kane right,” Southgate said. “Sometimes the priorities of what’s required and what you would like to see as well, you can’t achieve all of those objectives – simple as that.”

Southgate is still sweating on the fitness of Luke Shaw and Harry ­Maguire, who is expected to miss England’s opening game, against ­Serbia on 16 June, but he was boosted by Kieran Trippier starting against Bosnia. Trippier, who deputised for Shaw at left-back, feels that he is moving in the right direction after struggling with form and ­fitness last season.

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“I’m fit,” the ­Newcastle defender said. “If I pick the team, then ­obviously I put myself in it. That’s up to Gareth, but whether I play or I don’t play, I’ll be ready. I felt really fit. I’m feeling good, I’m feeling fresh.”

The Guardian

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