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Men’s football Toney ready to kick on with England after annoyance at late Slovakia cameo

IVAN TONEY was “annoyed” to be brought on so late by Gareth Southgate but said today that is water under the bridge as England look to “kick on” from their Euro 2024 scare against Slovakia.

The tournament hopefuls were moments away from an embarrassing exit akin to the defeat to Iceland eight years earlier as stoppage time ebbed away in Sunday evening’s last-16 encounter.

Toney made his frustration known as Southgate brought him on for his major tournament debut four minutes into added time in Gelsenkirchen, but the late move worked out.

The 28-year-old’s presence helped allow for Jude Bellingham’s stunning equaliser in the fifth minute of added time, with the Brentford striker then smartly heading across for Harry Kane to seal a 2-1 extra-time triumph.

Asked how Southgate knew he was annoyed, Toney said: “I think my face said it all!

“The manager has been there before. I’m sure there’s been a time there before when he’s come on in the 97th-plus minute and you just want to be on earlier.

“Everything is sorted now, we’re friends – not like we weren’t friends – but we’re happy now and concentrating on the next game.”

Toney pulled a face when asked to replicate his mood as he prepared to come on, then said with a smile “it was a lot worse than that.”

Toney says “every player is going to have a bit of a hump” if they are not playing, but knows he had to press reset and “fix my mood” before coming on – something Brentford’s sports psychologist has helped with.

“There’s a guy called Michael Caulfield at Brentford, who is always talking about controlling your emotions, and I feel like in that moment it was time to control your emotions,” he said.

“Yes, I was annoyed but still 30 minutes to play, and you’ve got to come out of that mood and focus.

“There’s a lot more to give, I felt for myself. There’s 30 minutes of football and you’ve got to play your part and I managed to do that.”

Caulfield saw Toney’s comments when his phone started blowing up after Wednesday’s press conference and was self-deprecating when he responded to that praise.

He posted on X: “At my club, there’s a guy called Ivan Toney [a centre forward] and he talks a lot about scoring goals, creating chances for others, proving people wrong, and smiling at the doubters.”

Toney says Caulfield’s main advice is “be on it, be ready, just focus on the next moment,” which is what England will look to do after a shaky start at the Euros.

Southgate’s side stumbled their way to the top of Group C before sneaking past Slovakia to set-up tomorrow’s quarter-final with Switzerland.

“There’s always going to be expectations and a lot of people who have their opinion,” Toney said.

“They’re entitled to it. If we win 2-0, people will say it should have been three or four. That’s always the case. But we’re two games away from a major final and we have to do what we can do and hopefully it’ll be enough.”

Asked if there was more motivation to make the most out of it having gone so close to an early exit, he said: “Yeah for sure. It was eye-opening that you could be going home any minute.

“The relief after in the dressing room was kind of like ‘right, now boys it’s time to kick on.’ I think we’ve got the character and the quality of players to do so. Hopefully, we can do that now.”

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