Ella Toone scored another hat-trick for England in Friday’s 10-0 win over North Macedonia. The Manchester United star has been a favourite of Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman this season and her form for club and country increasingly points to a starting role at Euro 2022.
Having played regularly for England at junior level, Toone only made her senior international debut last year but has already quickly racked up 12 appearances. In those outings, she has scored an impressive nine goals – including a penalty on her debut and two hat-tricks more recently.
As a new young player on the fringes previously, Toone was drafted into the starting XI this season once Wiegman took charge and started six consecutive World Cup qualifiers from September to November. She also started the first of England’s three Arnold Clark Cup fixtures in February, featuring in the rest from the bench, and was restored to the lineup on Friday.
It was a walkover for England in Skopje, but Toone was ruthless in grabbing scoring three times.
At club level this season, the 22-year-old leads the WSL in assists with eight and has netted six of her own for 14 goal contributions in 19 appearances. She has shown a maturity and leadership for United this season, while it is clear that her confidence on and off the pitch has grown.
England’s opening game will be played against Austria at Old Trafford on 6 July, where Toone recently shone for United in a historic game in front of more than 20,000 fans. As the Lionesses walk out in under three months’ time, expect her to be among them. An added personal motivation.
“It means everything to me,” Toone told 90min last month about playing at Old Trafford ahead of facing Everton. “Growing up a United fan, this stadium is a massive part of me.”
Toone offers England something different to others in the squad. She has thrived as a creative ‘number 10’ for United, showcasing an ability to both pick incisive passes and a willingness to make runs herself beyond the forwards or into wide to exploit spaces. She is also deceptively quick.
Chelsea’s Fran Kirby is her closest competition for a starting place this summer. Both have lined up alongside each other at times for England this summer, albeit against weaker opposition – Wiegman would be more likely to use one or the other in a bigger tournament game.
Overall, it bodes well for Toone how regularly she has featured under the Dutch coach this season. Kirby, while currently sidelined while she rests from fatigue and works on her fitness, has notably underperformed at international level since an outstanding breakout tournament at the World Cup in 2015. Successive England managers have failed to get the best out of her over a number of years, which must be baffling to Chelsea boss Emma Hayes.
United manager Marc Skinner knows Toone better than most and has often spoken glowingly this season about her vast talent.
“She’s got loads of rough edges that I don’t want to file down too much because she has the quality and wonderful ability to make things happen,” Skinner reflected recently following Toone’s milestone 100th appearance for the club earlier this month.
In a tournament setting, that game-changing quality could be just what England need.