Defoe retains World Cup 'dream'

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Striker Jermain Defoe says he never gave up on an England recall and has set his sights on playing for Gareth Southgate’s team at the 2018 World Cup.

Defoe, 34, is in line to win his 56th cap in Wednesday’s friendly at world champions Germany – more than three years after his last England outing.

“I know how important it is to play for your country,” said the Sunderland forward on Monday.

“Being lucky enough to have experienced it, you just want it more and more.”

After travelling to Dortmund, England host Lithuania at Wembley in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday.

“Just going to a major tournament, travelling, getting to the hotels, playing the games – it’s something you’ve always wanted to do from being a kid, growing up watching the great players over the years,” said Defoe.

“If I do get an opportunity to get to another major tournament it will be a dream.”

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Defoe won the most recent of his 55 England caps in a 2-0 defeat by Chile in November 2013.

The former Tottenham player has scored 19 times for England since making his debut against Sweden in 2004, and has 14 Premier League goals this season, the second most by any English player behind Harry Kane (19).

Defoe was asked if he would need to be in the Premier League to be in the England squad, with Sunderland bottom of the table, seven points from safety, with 10 games remaining.

He added: “You have to be playing at the top level. I missed out on a World Cup when I went to Toronto. You probably need to be playing in the Premier League.”

Defoe still plays with England flags stitched into his boots, and said his return to the squad had come as a relief.

“I was getting grief from my team-mates for still having the England flag on my boots,” he added.

“There were times where I thought ‘maybe I’m not going to get in’. It didn’t stop me from getting my head down and not giving up.”

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