Jonathan Woodgate backs Ivan Toney for Premier League with or without Brentford
Bournemouth boss Jonathan Woodgate believes record-breaking Brentford striker Ivan Toney is destined for the Premier League regardless of the outcome of the Sky Bet Championship play-offs.
Toney became the highest scorer in a Championship season by claiming his 31st goal of a prolific campaign at Bristol City last weekend.
The potent 25-year-old will bid to cap a remarkable campaign by firing the Bees to promotion, beginning with Monday evening’s play-off semi-final first leg against the Cherries.
While Woodgate is determined to deny Toney a dream trip to Wembley, he feels the opposition’s prized asset is almost certainly bound for the top flight.
“I think there will be definitely teams sniffing around him,” said Woodgate.
“Last year, no one (in the top flight) really took a chance on him when he was at Peterborough. I thought, when I watched him, he was always a really, really good centre-forward.
“I am sure Premier League teams will take him now, even if they don’t go up.”
Toney, who began his career with Northampton, has already had a brief taste of Premier League action having made a pair of substitute appearances for Newcastle in the 2015-16 campaign before dropping into League One with Peterborough in 2018 following a string of loan spells.
He moved to Brentford last summer to replace Aston Villa-bound Ollie Watkins and has been a revelation under the guidance of manager Thomas Frank.
Bournemouth’s defence managed to keep him off the scoresheet during two defeats to the Bees in the regular season.
Woodgate admits centre-backs Chris Mepham, Steve Cook and Cameron Carter-Vickers “have their hands full” to maintain that record as the Cherries seek an immediate top-flight return following last year’s relegation.
“He’s aggressive. Really good in the air. He can come short, can go long, an excellent goal-scorer,” the former England defender said of Toney’s strengths.
“Our centre-backs need to be on it, the three that we’ve got in the building – Meps, Cooky and Carter-Vickers – have got their hands full.
“There’s no getting away from that but I am sure they will stand up to him.”
Fans will be welcomed back to the Vitality Stadium for the game as coronavirus restrictions are eased.
Just over 2,000 supporters will be in attendance, making it the first time Woodgate – who replaced the sacked Jason Tindall in early February – has managed the south coast club in front of a crowd.
“I can’t wait. I’ve played where it’s been absolutely rammed down here and full and they create an incredible atmosphere,” he said.
“We know it’s not going to be like that but we know the fans that are going to be coming in are going to be loud, on our side and I can’t wait to have them in the stadium.
“They can make a huge difference. We need every single supporter who is coming in to be really positive and get behind the team, I am sure they will.”