Defoe awaits international clearance – in time to make Sunderland debut at Tottenham

Jermain Defoe at the Academy of Light. Picture by Ian Horrocks

Jermain Defoe at the Academy of Light. Picture by Ian Horrocks

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SUNDERLAND are confident that Jermain Defoe’s international clearance will go through in time for him to make his debut at Spurs tomorrow – and he could even start against his former club.

Confirmation of Defoe’s move to the Stadium of Light was delayed yesterday due to the time delay with Canada, where Jozy Altidore was completing the formalities of his switch to MLS outfit Toronto FC last night.

However, there has been no hitch to the deal, with Defoe due to be unveiled by Sunderland today after completing all the formalities of his switch, including passing a medical and agreeing a three-and-a-half year deal with the Black Cats.

There is unlikely to be any problem in registering Defoe with the Premier League before today’s noon deadline, to enable him to feature at White Hart Lane tomorrow.

But Sunderland will then be waiting on Defoe’s international clearance coming through from Canada, although they have until an hour before kick-off to receive it.

That proved to be a problem for the Wearsiders on the opening day of the season when Argentinian defender Santiago Vergini was unable to play, but Sunderland are hopeful that there will be no repeat this weekend.

Presuming Defoe is given the all-clear to play against Spurs – where he netted more than 100 goals during two spells at White Hart Lane – he could even be included in the starting XI, despite not featuring for Toronto since mid-October.

Sunderland are understood to have been working on various attacking combinations on the training ground over recent days to solve their goal problems, including with Defoe in the central striker role.

Likewise, Toronto are expected to unveil Altidore today, and have pencilled in a press conference with the 25-year-old after ending his miserable 18-month spell at Sunderland.

Altidore underwent a medical with Toronto late last night (GMT) after touching down in Canada, in the final step of the swap deal involving the two strikers.

As the Echo revealed yesterday, Sunderland have not paid any extra fee to land Defoe from the money they have received for Altidore, with a straight exchange essentially taking place for the duo. And while the MLS itself has essentially bought Altidore, the US international will sign for Toronto after completing the league’s allocation process, although that is thought to be a formality.