Jermain Defoe: A world beater or second fiddle?

Jermain Defoe started the season in startling form, scoring two as a substitute for England against Holland just one week before the first ball was kicked in the Premier League.

The Tottenham striker also hit 14 in his clubs first 20 games including five in a single match. This glimpse of his ability will have certainly been at the forefront of Fabio Capello’s mind when picking his potential strikers to take to the World Cup . The ex-Portsmouth player’s form dipped after a thigh injury just after the halfway point in the season but he did finish with an impressive 18 league goals to his name and 24 in total for the Lily Whites. The Head Coach will also have been pleased with the 27-year-olds England form as he was brought off the bench three times by the Italian last year to score important goals, proving he can play well on the world stage.

The Spurs front man will ultimately be third choice for Capello due to the team being built around the in form Wayne Rooney and the England Bosses desire to play a big target man such as Emile Heskey or Peter Crouch. Defoe will certainly be used as an impact player; possessing one of the quickest turns and lightning acceleration Capello will hope to bring the pacey forward on in the latter part of games if England need a goal. Defoe is also a natural goal poacher but can score from anywhere on the pitch, with a thunderous strike in his locker the ex-West Ham United trainee can also use both feet to devastating effect. The White Hart Lane ace spent much of pre-season working on his strength and this paid off considerably, scoring five more PL goals than in any other season in the top flight.

Weaknesses in the striker’s game may lie in his inability to play up-front on his own; he does not hold the ball up as well as Crouch or Heskey and has more of an eye for goal than a desire to bring other players into the game. It is also yet to be seen if Defoe can play as part of a 4-3-3, as Spurs do not seem to use this system. He is more comfortable with one strike partner and feeds off his wingers crosses with relish, if his Spurs team mate Aaron Lennon plays their knowledge of each others game will also benefit the team as a whole. Bobby Zamora, Darren Bent and Carlton Cole were all on the fringe of Capello’s squad and all of whom had equally prolific seasons. Nevertheless Defoe’s performances for England to date and his partnership with his team mate Crouch may have tipped the scales in his favour; with the other three contenders relatively untested for their country.

The England super-sub has been picked in 11 international squads in the last two years, he only started in four of these matches yet he has found the back of the net six times. His shock omission from the 2006 World Cup in place of the inexperienced Theo Walcott has not been repeated and Defoe may feel he has something to prove if he makes the final 23.

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