In Focus: Bees ace Toney firing on all cylinders after sting of England snub
Red-hot Brentford striker Ivan Toney is a man on a mission.
Toney, 26, has scored in each of his side's two games since the Premier League returned from the mid-season break — taking his tally for the campaign to 12 goals in 16 top-flight appearances.
He appears to have a point to prove having narrowly missed out on England's World Cup squad, while a potential ban for alleged betting breaches hangs over his head.
With Toney likely to shake off a knee injury picked up during Friday's 2-0 win at West Ham in time to face Liverpool tonight, we turn the spotlight on the Bees star.
As one of the Premier League's most in-form forwards, Toney can rightly feel he was unlucky to miss out on being part of Gareth Southgate's plans in Qatar.
With 20 top-flight goals to his name across 2022, Three Lions captain Harry Kane was the only Englishman to score more.
But rather than dwell on the disappointment, Toney seems to be using it as fuel to raise his game to even higher levels.
The Bees No9 scored a match-winning brace at Manchester City just days after Southgate's squad was announced.
And he showed the World Cup break had not dampened his hunger for goals by netting 54 minutes into a 2-2 draw with Tottenham on Boxing Day, before bagging the opener at the London Stadium.
Reflecting on his England omission, the Bees ace said: "Obviously it was painful not getting picked in the squad, but that's life.
"The more you dwell on it, the more it's going to hurt you. Just leave it behind you and focus on what's coming next."
As Toney continues to be 10th-placed Brentford’s talisman despite his off-field issues, manager Thomas Frank admits even he is surprised at his striker’s ability to block out the noise.
The Dane, 49, said: "I wish I knew [how he does it] because then I would bottle it up and sell it for a lot of money and be very rich!
"He is very special. Unbelievable character and mentality, with the ability to focus in the moment, stay focused and drive to win."
Race for Reds clash
With Toney accounting for 12 of Brentford’s 27 league goals this term, the sight of him being carried off on a stretcher off at the London Stadium gave Bees fans cause for concern.
After all, he had followed up his goal against the Hammers by setting one up for Josh Dasilva as the visitors secured a comfortable victory in East London.
But Frank has since revealed the injury is not as significant as first feared and that Toney has every chance of featuring against Liverpool.
He added: "It's good news with Ivan, it's not a significant injury.
"He could potentially be available. There's nothing wrong with his knee. Without going too much into the details, it's something with the muscle.
"The physios explained the details and I completely forgot! I'm just glad it isn't serious."
Potential ban looms
Of course, going without their star man for a lengthy period is something that could become a reality for Brentford later this season.
The former Peterborough hitman faces a hefty ban after being charged by the FA for an alleged 262 breaches of betting rules.
With Dasilva, Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa having netted three goals apiece this term, Brentford may end up dipping into the January sales as they brace themselves for the worst.
But for now at least, the Bees will welcome Jurgen Klopp's side feeling they have every chance of extending their five-game unbeaten run in the league with Toney leading the line.