Jamaica Target Toney Linked With Plethora Of English Top-Flight Teams

Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd

Ivan Toney remains a wanted man by a clutch of English Premier League (EPL) clubs as well as Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz.

He seems like the ideal replacement for Leicester City veteran and former England star Jamie Vardy. With a price tag of £30 million (US$42m) there are numerous EPL sides eyeing him up that include Arsenal, Everton, Leeds United and West Ham United.

However, Toney is untested in the top tier and this season has been his first in the Championship, having previously notched 26 goals in 39 League One appearances for Peterborough United during the 2019-20 campaign. Yet Toney and Nathan Redmond are two English-born strikers currently chewing over the chance of competing for Jamaica at the FIFA 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.

However, the two targets appear to be in no hurry to pledge their allegiance to the Boyz. Brentford hot-shot Toney bagged his 30th league strike on 3 May, to equal the Championship record for goals scored, while in contrast Redmond is finding chances tricky with EPL strugglers Southampton.

  

Although the Boyz are not short of firepower upfront, with the British-based pair of Jamal Lowe on fire for Swansea City and Bobby Decordova-Reid always a handful for Fulham, then Toney would be expected to be a regular starter. Redmond is more likely to be utilised as part of the rotation tactics and as a substitute if he came on-board.

Yet it is Toney who the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) will no doubt soon be pushing to make a decision about whether he wishes to commit his future to the Caribbean or chase the ultimate dream of winning England caps.

The 25-year-old was one of a plethora of English-born and -based players that JFF president Michael Ricketts claimed in March would be called up to the national team. Ricketts told Sportsmax TV that these players were in the process of acquiring a Jamaican passport.

However, it transpired that many players on Ricketts’ radar are adamant that they were not contacted prior to that interview including Redmond.

The JFF have been scouting a string of England-born players in a desperate bid to improve the Boyz’ chances at this year’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, in a bid to strengthen their squad with the addition of top quality players.

But Toney was just one of a handful of the 15 English-based players to have so far rejected Jamaica’s interest.

Yet players, with Jamaican heritage that the JFF have been mentioning, do want a shot at playing at the World Cup finals. Realistically Jamaica’s chances of reaching Qatar 2022 are slim with only three nations from eight sides automatically qualifying for the showpiece tournament. Costa Rica, Curaçao, Mexico and the United States appear to be their biggest rivals to navigate their way to the Middle East.

  

With England highly likely to be at the next World Cup finals, already a trio of players approached by the JFF are harbouring their ambitions with their country of birth and rejected Jamaica. These are Max Aarons (Norwich City), Mason Greenwood (Manchester United) and Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United). The latter pair were selected by England for September’s UEFA Nations League fixtures.

With over a hundred players, born to Jamaican parents in England or who have Jamaican grandparents, competing in the English top four divisions then there is always going to be some talent to unearth for the Boyz. And even in the non-league game there are potential new recruits, including Sutton United striker Donovan Wilson.

England head coach Gareth Southgate is believed to also have had showdown talks with Mason Holgate (Everton) and Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal) about whether their future lies with Jamaica or England. Yet Toney has not yet been spoken to by the English FA.

Toney will no doubt be advised that the English Football Association has a recent bad reputation of pleading with players who have international choices to commit to their country of birth, only to then discard them after one or two matches.

If Toney is scoring goals for fun in the EPL next season, whether with Brentford – who are in the EPL play-offs – or a heavyweight side such as Everton or Leicester City, then he could very well be lining up at Qatar in an English jersey.

Toney would arguably enjoy a better career should he be approached to regularly wear the White Lions shirt rather than pull on a Jamaica golden top. His only dilemma is whether he prefers a shot at potential short-term glory with Jamaica or whether he wishes to continue to chase his dream of becoming an England regular.

Although Whitmore urgently requires some top-class additional talent to boost his ever-improving squad to tackle the World Cup qualifiers, it would be understandable should Toney continue to turn his back on the Boyz.

By Ardfern – Own work, CC BY 4.0, Commons

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