Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

DEFOE CAN BE KEY FOR ENGLAND IN RUSSIA; VETERAN WOULD SHINE AT WORLD CUP HE IS PLAYING LIKE HE'S 25, SAYS LALLANADefoe Can Be Key at World Cup, He Is Playing like a 25-Year-Old

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

DEFOE CAN BE KEY FOR ENGLAND IN RUSSIA; VETERAN WOULD SHINE AT WORLD CUP HE IS PLAYING LIKE HE'S 25, SAYS LALLANADefoe Can Be Key at World Cup, He Is Playing like a 25-Year-Old

Article excerpt

Byline: Giuseppe Muro Football Correspondent

JERMAIN DEFOE can be an integral part of the England squad at the 2018 World Cup, said Adam Lallana today, after the striker marked his international return with a goal.

Defoe scored against Lithuania as England took another step towards qualifying for the finals with a 2-0 win at Wembley.

The Sunderland forward will be 35 when the World Cup kicks off in Russia but Gareth Southgate says he could make his squad if he maintains his form in the Premier League.

Defoe -- making his first England appearance in three and a half years yesterday (right) -- has scored 14 times for Sunderland this term and has 20 goals in 56 games for his country.

The former Tottenham man was called up as Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney are all injured, but Lallana says the veteran can have a key role in Russia.

"He is determined to not just be here for this squad and be in the squad for the World Cup -- and why not when he comes and contributes like he did yesterday," said Lallana.

"He thoroughly deserves to be playing on an international stage and at this level and he proved what he is about, what he can bring and what an option he is for Russia.

"I think everyone felt he was going to score. That is Jermain Defoe for you. He has been playing some of the best football of his career this season and scoring goals.

"It still feels like you are playing with a 25-year-old Jermain Defoe. My dad used to take me to watch Bournemouth play when he famously scored in 10 games in a row more than 15 years ago. To be playing with him for England is quite surreal. It is the Jermain Defoe of old. You bet your bottom dollar he is going to score and he did."

Defoe went to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where he scored a Continued from Back Page crucial goal against Slovenia and Lallana believes his finishing could be key at a major tournament.

"It can be massive," said the Liverpool midfielder. …

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