While a great deal of scepticism surrounded Jermain Defoe’s chances of making England’s World Cup squad after news first broke of his move to MLS earlier this year, the former Tottenham man’s hot start to life in Toronto certainly helped silence some of the doubters.
A brace in the 2-1 season-opening win against the Seattle Sounders, followed by the lone goal in a 1-0 victory over D.C. United in week two, had those around MLS already christening him the deadliest finisher in the league and others back home swiftly revising their opinion on the 31-year-old’s chances of making the plane to Brazil.
Defoe however has had little chance to further impress since. With a hamstring injury picked up in the side’s 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on March 29 ruling him out for the third consecutive game this past weekend, any momentum behind his World Cup push has evidently been stalled.
The torn ACL suffered by Southampton forward Jay Rodriguez may have helped improve his odds somewhat but, with Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck all assured their places in the squad, Defoe could well find himself fighting with Rickie Lambert for the final spot should Hodgson decide to take just four frontmen. That’s before even taking into consideration the support for Andy Carroll’s inclusion too.
The England manager is slated to announce his 30-man provisional squad prior to a May 30 friendly with Peru at Wembley Stadium. The team will then move on to Miami to play exhibition games against Ecuador on June 4 and Honduras on June 7, before the full squad to travel to Brazil is named. With the prospect of only three MLS starts for the TFC striker between now and then, time is clearly running out to stake his claim.
Nevertheless, Hodgson is already well aware of what Defoe can bring to his side, having previously praised his goal-scoring abilities prior to his move to Canada. With England lacking a player of his ilk to influence a game off the bench, as well as his international track record of 55 caps and 19 goals, it may just be enough to earn a place in the final 23-man squad.