England return was emotional occasion for Jermain Defoe

Defoe ended a three-and-a-half-year absence from the worldwide stage on Sunday, opening the scoring in England's 2-0 win over Lithuania at Wembley.

England delivered a 2-0 qualifying victory that keeps them firmly on course for next year's World Cup finals but a large Wembley crowd were hardly enthralled by the fare on offer.

Next up for the Three Lions is June's trip to Scotland, who occupy fourth place after keeping their slender hopes of reaching Russian Federation alive with a late win over Slovenia.

Next for England is June's match against Scotland at Glasgow's Hampden Park, followed by Malta's visit to Wembley, neither of whom are likely to cause Southgate's men many sleepless nights in the coming months.

"The group is in our hands, which is the most important thing", Southgate said. 'We still have a lot to do.

Changing your diet can be a struggle for all of us, but I suppose if you get a few hundred grand a week you have a bit of an incentive to try and prolong your career for as long as possible.

Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney will be hoping to return after missing the friendly in Germany and the qualifier against Lithuania - absences that enabled Defoe to complete an unlikely worldwide renaissance.

With the three points moving England closer to qualification, Southgate has left the door open for Defoe to make his squad for the World Cup next summer.

"It still feels like you're playing with a 25-year-old Jermain Defoe", Lallana said.

Despite his advancing age, the 34-year-old's performances have been very good for Sunderland this season and managed to earn him a recall to the England national team for the first time since November 2013. "Sometimes those things are going to come off and sometimes they're not", Southgate said when asked about Sterling's display. "I'm going to do this and be rewarded".

"The flip-side of that is we don't have a huge pool of players to pick from".

Former club West Ham United are keen to take him back, but he did leave them under a cloud and there will be a section of their supports that has not forgiven him so a move somewhere else might suit him better.

"I can't constrain myself on selection entirely, but I know ideally what I'd want to have".

Jermain Defoe and Adam Lallana both scored in the comfortable win over the eastern European nation.

"I thought it was one of those afternoons where it's job done", Southgate said.

The lively Defoe flashed another snap-shot just wide but England toiled away bluntly against Lithuania's yellow wall.

Burnley's Michael Keane made his competitive debut alongside Stones at the heart of defence and England is the only side yet to concede a goal in the European qualifying section. The game in tight areas is where his quick feet and quick brain stand out. He's a ballsy player and I like that about him as well.

  • Julie Sanders