Jermain Defoe poised to make first England start in four years against Lithuania

Jack Austin
The Independent
Defoe's last start came against San Marino in 2013: Getty
Defoe's last start came against San Marino in 2013: Getty

Jermain Defoe is set to make his first England start in four years on Sunday with Gareth Southgate expected to pick the Sunderland striker to lead the line against Lithuania.

Southgate is expected to move away from the three-man defence he deployed in the 1-0 defeat to Germany on Wednesday with the 34-year-old replacing Jamie Vardy in the starting XI.

Defoe’s last game for England came against Chile in November 2013, with his last start coming in March earlier that year against San Marino.

Speaking before the game, Southgate said: “Jermain is scoring goals for his club, doesn't get too many chances, but he's a deadly finisher. If called upon, I have every faith that he'll score goals. No question.”

A number of changes are expected, with John Stones likely to partner Michael Keane at centre back with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling coming into the midfield in a 4-1-4-1 formation.

Dele Alli and Adam Lallana, who Southgate is looking to build his team around, should retain their places after promising performances in Dortmund in midweek.

Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson, who was called up to the squad on Friday, will start on the bench after the withdrawal of Chris Smalling with injury and the suspension of Gary Cahill.

Goalkeeper Joe Hart will captain the side on his 70th appearance in the absence of Wayne Rooney, Cahill and Jordan Henderson.

Probable England XI to face Lithuania: Hart, Walker, Stones, Keane, Bertrand, Dier, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana, Alli, Sterling, Defoe.

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