Brentford head coach Thomas Frank believes Ivan Toney wants to become a big presence in the England dressing room after receiving his first Three Lions call-up, but that the striker should focus on impressing Gareth Southgate on the pitch first.
Toney, who was not capped by England at youth level, was called into the senior squad for September’s Nations League fixtures against Germany and Italy.
A charismatic figure on and off the pitch, the 26-year-old is one of the most popular and vocal players at Brentford.
Frank reckons this is a character trait he will try and continue to display once he joins up with the England squad for the first time, but urged him to show his worth as a footballer first.
“I think he wants to [be a leader in the England dressing room], no doubt about that,” Frank said. “I think when you step into a new environment, it’s a little bit like the first day of school. So you need to step in there, of course show who you are.
“But first and foremost he has to go out there on the pitch and show that he’s a very good footballer.”
Toney is part of Frank’s leadership group alongside full internationals David Raya, Christian Norgaard and club captain Pontus Jansson.
He joined from Peterborough United in 2020, and while Frank admitted that Toney’s leadership qualities were not a huge part of the reason they signed him, it was an added bonus that didn’t come as too much of a shock.
“I don’t know if it was a surprise [that he was a leader], but that was not in the front of my mind when we signed him!” Frank added.
“I knew we would sign a very good striker with great abilities to score goals and I knew he would help us in that aspect. But when you then work with him and have been around him, he then showed his true character and leadership qualities.”