Gareth Southgate praises Jermain Defoe's striking return for England


Gareth Southgate left the door open for Defoe to make the plane for Russian Federation after the 34-year-old scored on his England return in the World Cup qualifying victory over Lithuania.

Aside from Defoe notching a first global goal for four years, the Wembley crowd witnessed some forgettable fayre, with Lithuania's lack of ambition and England's sluggish early tempo contributing to a paucity of goalmouth action.

He scored on Sunday in the Federation Internationale de Football Association 2018 World Cup qualifier against Lithuania in his first worldwide game since November 15 2013 against Chile.

Southgate started Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe up top alongside Jamie Vardy against Lithuania with Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney both out of action, and the former Tottenham star rewarded him by firing home his 20th global goal.

Southgate added: "I'm pleased for the two lads who have got the goals, a great story for Jermain and I felt Jamie added something to us".

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"I think we've got to look every time we get together as to who is in form", said Southgate.

"As a player you appreciate that, because if you have a conversation with the manager you understand and you think "okay, maybe if I do this I can get in the next squad".

"I would have put my house on him scoring at some stage today".

Jermain Defoe is targeting a "strong" finish to the season with relegation-threatened Sunderland - as he he hopes to clinch a place in the England squad for June's World Cup qualifier against Scotland.

"We'd have liked a bit more but only one team came to win the game and it's always hard to break down a packed defence as we did". 'I have a better understanding of my body now.

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Southgate made a double change on the hour, sacrificing the creator and finisher of the only goal as Defoe and Sterling made way for Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford.

Alli thrived in an advanced midfield role similar to the one he plays for Tottenham and is adamant Southgate's new methods must be embraced if the nation wants to be successful. "There are a lot of things I do away from training and playing that help me to perform on match day". "Especially playing with these sort of players, I always knew I'd get a chance". "He has been absolutely brilliant this week, he sets a great example for a lot of us players". This time, Gareth phoned me and said, "Even if you're not in the squad I will still phone you".

Southgate has already suggested Defoe, who will be approaching his 36th birthday as the World Cup takes place, can play a part at Russian Federation 2018 if he maintains his goalscoring form in the top flight. I want to try and play as long as I can.

"I still think about it". Just to win the game was important and we did that.

Current boss Gareth Southgate has opened the door for him to put that right in Russian Federation next year, provided he can retain form and fitness, a last hurrah that would go a long way towards making up for the past.

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