The Sunday Post (Dundee)
Big Sam set to hand deadly Defoe a recall
JERMAIN DEFOE is in line for a shock recall to the England squad.
New boss Sam Allardyce was impressed with the Sunderland striker’s form and fitness when he watched him in action against Manchester City last Saturday.
Now he is set to include the 33-year-old when he announces his squad to face Slovakia in the opening World Cup qualifier next Sunday.
It’s almost three years since the former Tottenham and Portsmouth striker won the last of his 55 caps. He was ignored by former manager Roy Hodgson for both the 2014 World Cup and this summer’s Euros.
But former Sunderland boss Allardyce needs little convincing of Defoe’s qualities and he has admitted that his 15 goals kept the Black Cats in the Premier League last season.
“We’d have been relegated without him,” Big Sam said bluntly.
Defoe’s 55 England matches brought him 19 goals, which would make him comfortably the current squad’s secondtop scorer behind Wayne Rooney.
Hodgson ignored Defoe’s late claims last season, preferring to take 18-year-old Manchester United starlet Marcus Rashford to France.
There is likely to be at least one striker vacancy in next Sunday’s squad because Daniel Sturridge missed the start of Liverpool’s season through injury and Rashford has been mainly on the bench after United signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy are guaranteed two of the striker spots and Allardyce has indicated that Rooney will also return to a role up front after Hodgson used him in midfield in France.
Allardyce has said that his first selections will be dictated by form and fitness levels over the opening three weeks of the season.
As well as Sturridge, that’s likely to mean that Hodgson regulars like Chris Smalling, who has yet to start for Manchester United, and Joe Hart will struggle to make his first XI.
Allardyce was at White Hart Lane yesterday running the rule over Tottenham’s large contingent of England players but was there specifically to watch Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend, who was cut by Hodgson from his provisional pre-Euros squad.
Another who fell into that category, Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater, is also likely to be recalled.
Meanwhile, the FA are making provisional plans to take the England team back on the road next season after successful fixtures at the Stadium of Light and the Etihad Stadium last May.