Southgate leaves door open for Rooney return

The 34-year-old, earning his first start in almost four years, staked his claim for an extended role in Gareth Southgate's setup with a trademark poacher's finish - and now has his eyes set on sneaking into the squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation.

The Sunderland striker was recalled for the first time in more than three years ahead of last week's friendly with Germany and today's World Cup with Lithuania.

Jermain Defoe justified his recall from the global wilderness by scoring the first goal as England ground out a laboured 2-0 win over Lithuania to stay on course for the World Cup finals at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

All attention was on an emotional Defoe as he led the team onto the pitch with young Bradley Lowery beside him and the forward continued to catch the eye after kick-off with an early goal for England. I enjoyed it, it's been a good week.

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

"He's had a really positive impact on everybody".

"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". "There are a lot of things I do away from training and playing that help me to perform on match day".

Manager Southgate has floated the idea of appointing his captain on a game-by-game basis and praised Hart's leadership qualities in the build-up to his 70th cap, but the 29-year-old would be happy enough for it to be a one-off.

"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".

Once the ball started rolling it took just 21 minutes for Defoe to get in on the act, making no mistake from a few yards out after good work from Raheem Sterling down the left.

Veteran Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe ensured a fairy-tale return to the worldwide fold when he broke the deadlock after 21 minutes, but the hosts laboured in their attempts for a second against opponents with limited ambition.

Your won't catch teetotal Defoe looking the worse for wear after a boozy night as Wayne Rooney was at the team hotel between games against Scotland and Spain in November.

"We would have liked to have scored more".

"So I am very proud of my team because they worked extremely hard".

"It's a amusing one because when I go to my mum's she's got every meat you can imagine on the table". I want to try and play as long as I can.

"Last season I was scoring goals, but I wasn't selected for the Euros even though I finished the season strong".

  • Julie Sanders


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