Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe returns to the England squad after being called up by manager Gareth Southgate this week. Defoe has been on an impressive run of form since returning to the Black Cats and is the second-highest English goalscorer in the Premier League this season.
Jermain Defoe Returns to the England Squad
With a flurry of injuries to some of England’s top strikers, including Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge and captain Wayne Rooney, we can expect Defoe to be featuring heavily in what is quite an inexperienced squad.
The other two forwards who have been called up alongside the veteran striker are Manchester United youngster Marcus Rashford and Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy. With both of these players struggling to find their form from last season, it will be interesting to see if Southgate relies on Defoe to get his team the points at Wembley Stadium when they face Lithuania on March 26.
Defoe has been capped by his country 55 times, scoring 19 goals, but has not appeared for England since a 2-0 home defeat to Chile in 2013.
After Defoe’s stellar return to Premier League form since his arrival at Wearside, there were many questioning his exclusion from the England squad for the European Championships last summer. Defoe will be hoping for a convincing display later this month in order to prove that he would have been able to carry his national team further than that dismal Round of 16 display against minnows Iceland.
At 34 years old, it is obvious that Defoe’s tournament window is closing, and therefore he will be desperate to keep his form going and try to force his way into Southgate’s plans for next summer’s FIFA World Cup in Russia, a full eight years since his last appearance at an international tournament.
The emergence of youth
Despite the inclusion of Jermain Defoe, Southgate has named a very inexperienced squad, with four previously uncapped players. Southampton’s Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse, Burnley centre-back Michael Keane and West Ham’s versatile Michail Antonio all are receiving their first respective call-ups.
There is also a surprising return to the England setup for West Brom’s Jake Livermore, who has not featured for England since his first appearance in a friendly win over Italy in 2012.
It’s not surprising that the manager is choosing to include more and more young players, with the likes of Dele Alli, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Redmond and more all featuring heavily for Southgate during his tenure as the England U-21’s boss.
With a tough away friendly against the current world champions Germany acting as a precursor for their World Cup qualifier, this will prove as a chance for all of these fringe players to stake their place in the England side moving forward.