24 May 2023

Gareth Southgate criticises nature of Ivan Toney’s eight-month suspension

24 May 2023

Gareth Southgate criticised the wide-reaching nature of Ivan Toney’s eight-month betting ban and told the suspended England striker he can still make next summer’s Euros.

The 27-year-old made his international debut as a substitute against Ukraine in March’s Euro 2024 qualifier but the Brentford star will not be able play for club or country again this year.

Toney was charged with 262 betting offences at the end of 2022 and was last week hit with an eight-month Football Association ban after admitting 232 breaches.

The striker starts the suspension by watching the end of the campaign and England’s June qualifiers from afar, with Southgate raising concerns about the sweeping impact of the ban.

“I have spoken with him,” the England boss said. “I don’t know if that’s allowed, by the way, but if it isn’t then they can ban me and not add to his.

“Look, the ban is the ban. It is what it is. I think he recognised and accepted the punishment.

“What bothers me is we’ve got to look after people. He’s injured at the moment, what does he do about getting fit? What does he do?

I don’t like the idea that we just leave somebody, so that they are not allowed to be a part of the football community.

“How do we give him some structure over the next few months that he can develop himself or be a better person at the end of it? Or have experiences that he might not experience?

“I don’t like the idea that we just leave somebody, so that they are not allowed to be a part of the football community.

“I don’t think that’s how we should work, I don’t think that’s how the best rehabilitation programmes would work.

“But he knows that we picked him because we felt until there was a charge, he should be allowed to play.

“When he comes back, if he plays well then we’ll pick him.

“It won’t have any bearing but I think he’ll have additional motivation through what he is experiencing. I think he is a resilient guy with great character and we are here to support him.”

Toney is prohibited from training until September 17 and cannot play football again until January 17, 2024.

There is only four-and-a-half months between the striker’s return and the Euros kicking off in Germany, but Southgate says the door remains open for him.

Asked if Toney can still make the tournament in Germany, the England boss said: “Yeah, without a doubt.

“It is not ideal because he is going to miss a large chunk of the season and you don’t know after that sort of period out how physically he’s going to adapt and how he’s going to play.

“But it’s possible for him. There would still be time.

“He’s really impressed us with the way he’s played.

“I like personality, I like his belief and the way he goes about his job, so everything is still possible for him I think.”

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