Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe’s England days definitely over?

Down and out? Jermain Defoe. Picture by FRANK REID
Down and out? Jermain Defoe. Picture by FRANK REID
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Jermain Defoe’s England career would appear over.

Given his rapid start to the Premier League season and an ankle injury to Harry Kane, the odds looked fair for a return for the four-goal striker, especially with Sam Allardyce in charge of the Three Lions.

But Big Sam’s sacking last week sent the odds further out and, despite that good opening to the season and his international pedigree, caretaker boss Gareth Southgate has overlooked the 33-year-old.

Southgate has deviated from Allardyce’s squad with several changes.

He has selected Manchester United winger Jesse Lingard for the World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia.

The 23-year-old is a player the ex-Middlesbrough boss knows well having been part of Southgate’s U21 party at the 2015 European Championship.

His Man United team-mate Marcus Rashford is back in the senior squad after scoring a hat-trick for Southgate against Norway U21 last month.

Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also back after a year’s absence, while Stoke’s Glen Johnson returns for the first time since the 2014 World Cup.

But there is no room for Defoe for England’s game with Malta at Wembley on Saturday and the trip to Slovenia a week tomorrow.

The Londoner, a goal machine for Tottenham, appeared to be leaving his England career behind him in 2014 when he joined Canadian side Toronto.

But he left the MLS 12 months later to return to England with a move to Sunderland.

His half-season in 2014-15, produced just four goals, but he was as prolific as any English-qualified striker last season, scoring 18 times to help Sunderland stay in the top flight and he has begun this season smartly.

However, the last of his 55 England caps came in the late Autumn of 2013, as a second-half sub against Chile at Wembley.

The last of his 19 goals England goals came in March 2013, when he struck twice away to San Marino.

Defoe, as he has proven over the last two years, remains as hungry as ever to score goals.

Last week, the Echo reported that Sunderland team-mate Seb Larsson had backed an England return, adding “I know he wants it and hopefully if he keeps going he will get it.”

However, Sunderland’s fans may not be too unhappy that their star striker, the man who could be key to their survival hopes, will be sat at home with his feet up and fit for the Premier League fight.