Emotional Defoe scores in England return

Mar 26, 2017 - 8:59 PM Jermain Defoe was struggling to contain his emotions even before scoring on his return from England exile in a 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Lithuania.

Although Joe Hart wore the captain's armband, Defoe was allowed to lead England out onto the Wembley Stadium field on Sunday with a terminally ill five-year-old mascot.

The Sunderland striker has formed a bond with cancer-stricken Bradley Lowery in the northeast and he wanted to give his "best mate" the chance to see him score for England.

It hadn't happened for four years but the 34-year-old Defoe delivered 21 minutes into his 56th appearance.

Raheem Sterling glided through the defence and provided a sweet cross for Defoe to net his 20th international goal.

"I had to keep my emotions in the beginning with little Brad with me," Defoe said after his first England appearance since November 2013.

"It was special just to be back and playing with the lads is a great feeling."

Injuries to strikers Harry Kane and Daniel Sturridge, allied with his strong scoring form for Sunderland, gave the 34-year-old Defoe a route back into the international fold.

During his time away from the England setup, Defoe has left the Premier League for FC Toronto in Canada and returned with bottom-placed Sunderland but he hasn't lost his scoring instinct.

"I'd put my house on him scoring at some stage," said manager Gareth Southgate, who was playing for England when Defoe made his debut in 2003.

"He's had a really positive impact on everyone ... he was thrilled to be back involved in the squad."

Injuries to younger strikers seem to be the best chance of Defoe making the squad for Russia, assuming the Group F leaders complete the job in the second half of qualifying.

Defoe played almost an hour before being replaced by another player out of his 20s.

The 30-year-old Vardy scored with his first touch, carrying his resurgent form for Leicester into international duty.

At the midway point in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, England is the only team in Europe yet to concede a goal.

Southgate's side is five points clear of Slovenia, which was at Scotland later Sunday. Slovakia was also playing Malta in a later game.

Source: AAP

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!