When a 31 year old Defoe left Tottenham for Toronto in 2014, it was understandable to think his time in an England shirt was over. With the MLS still viewed negatively through many English eyes as a retirement home, attentions switched elsewhere when debating the England squad. Just a year later though and the London born player was back in England.
A transfer to relegation threatened Sunderland turned out to be a revelation as he reacquired his talent for scoring goals in England’s top division. Defoe’s goals helped the North East club to claw their way out of the drop zone and Defoe has only become more crucial this season.
Sunderland have scored 24 goals in the 16/17 season, Defoe has scored 14 of them. He has become the key man of the team. So much so that when West Ham enquired about his availability in January they were firmly told “not for sale”. Sunderland are still in deep trouble but would have surely already have been doomed to relegation if Defoe had returned to London.
“His goalscoring record speaks for itself, he’s a finisher.” - Gareth Southgate
With first choice striker Harry Kane injured, it does leave room for another face in England’s front line and it most likely came down to Defoe or Andy Carroll. The problem with the Hammers striker is his well publicised injury record. This season alone he has missed 136 days through injury compared to Defoe’s 0. The added strain of a flight to Germany is perhaps one that neither Southgate or Slaven Bilić would have been happy to put Carroll through so the reasoning behind Defoe’s selection becomes clearer.
As well as that, Defoe can help the younger players in the squad. He has been playing professional football since 1999 and has all the knowledge that comes with that. He can be there to provide advice to the younger players in the squad and impart his knowledge.
Whether he starts the game against Germany is a decision for Southgate but his 16/17 form means he definitely deserves a place in the team.