Southgate says Toney ban not how rehabilitation works
England manager Gareth Southgate took aim on Wednesday at an eight-month ban from all football-related activity for Brentford striker Ivan Toney for breaches of betting rules.
Toney was capped by Southgate for the first time in March, while betting charges were hanging over the 27-year-old.
He will not even be allowed to train with his teammates until the halfway point of his ban is up in September.
An independent regulatory commission imposed the sanctions after Toney admitted to 232 breaches of gambling on football.
Players are banned from betting even on matches they are not involved in.
"I have spoken with him. I don’t know if that’s allowed, by the way. If it isn’t then they can ban me and not add to his," said Southgate as he announced his squad for Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia next month.
"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? 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 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."
- Sterling struggles -
Raheem Sterling was the big-name omission from Southgate's squad as he revealed the Chelsea winger does not feel fully fit.
Sterling, who has won 82 caps, has endured a difficult first season since joining the Blues from Manchester City.
"He's not happy physically with his condition, having been carrying a hamstring problem. He really wasn't in consideration," added Southgate.
"We didn't get to the point of whether he should be in or out. He doesn't think he is operating at the level he needs."
Crystal Palace's Eberechi Eze received his first call-up, while Brighton captain Lewis Dunk is rewarded for his fine season with a return to the squad for the first time in four-and-a-half years.
Eze's performances have caught the eye, with six goals in eight games under Roy Hodgson, who returned to Selhurst Park as coach in March.
"We have liked him for a long time. I think he has finished the season really strongly," said Southgate on Eze.
"He is a goal threat, he's got nice ability and speed to go past people and can take people out of the game with his dribbling skills. We are looking forward to seeing him a bit closer."
England are well on course to qualify for Euro 2024 in Germany after beating Italy and Ukraine in their opening Group C fixtures.
The Three Lions travel to Malta on June 16 before hosting North Macedonia at Old Trafford three days later.
Squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal), Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace)
Defenders: Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw (both Manchester United), John Stones, Kyle Walker (both Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Declan Rice (West Ham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace)
Forwards: Phil Foden, Jack Grealish (both Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), James Maddison (Leicester), Callum Wilson (Newcastle)