Jermain Defoe admits England place may rely on him leaving Sunderland

Jason Burt
The Telegraph
Defoe is realistic about his England chances - epa
Defoe is realistic about his England chances - epa

Jermain Defoe has admitted that he will probably have to leave Sunderland if they are relegated from the Premier League if he wants to remain in the England squad.

The 34-year-old striker has been recalled by manager Gareth Southgate for Wednesday’s friendly away to Germany and the World Cup qualifier at home to Lithuania next Sunday and spoke of his delight.

However with Sunderland bottom of the league, despite Defoe’s goal-scoring feats, he conceded that it may be difficult for him to retain his place if he is no longer in the top-flight.

“Obviously you have to be realistic and to get into any squad it is based on merit and you need to be playing at the top level,” Defoe said.

“When I went to Toronto (in MLS in early 2014) I missed out on going to the World Cup and it was a hard call to take. I would say I probably need to be playing in the Premier League but we will see what happens.”

The England team when Jermain Defoe made his debut - where are they now?

It is the first time Defoe has been included since 2013 and he said there were “times when I did think maybe I am not going to get in” again but added: “It didn’t stop me from working hard and hoping one day…I have still got my England flag on my boots and people were saying ‘why have you still got that’ but I kept hoping.

I love playing football, love scoring goals. When you have had that excitement of going to major tournaments, then it is something that you crave.”

<span>Defoe has been on fire this season</span> <span>Credit: PA </span>
Defoe has been on fire this season Credit: PA

Nevertheless Defoe, despite his 14 league goals this season, was surprised to receive the phone call from Southgate telling him he had been recalled.

“He’s always someone who impressed me,” he said of the manager. “I remember playing against him. He’s been there and done it and played in major tournaments and is fully equipped to handle the pressure.”

Premier League team of the weekend


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