Is Jermain Defoe’s bit-part role enough for Fabio Capello?

With Tottenham attempting to shrug of their outsiders tag in what is fast becoming a intriguing Premier League race, fringe player Jermain Defoe will certainly be experiencing the full plethora of emotions at White Hart Lane.

Defoe’s underwhelming last campaign propelled Harry Redknapp into loaning Man City’s Emmanuel Adebayor, who has so far impressed by contributing seven goals and six assists in nine games. The main obstacle then for Defoe is Redknapp’s rigid view to his favoured first team aesthetic. The ex-Arsenal man and Rafael van der Vaart generally lead the line as it gives the side more flexibility, with the Dutchman able to drop back in effectively moulding a five-man midfield if required. In this instance then, the former West Ham man faces a struggle to regain first team continuity.

With van der Vaart missing at West Bromwich Albion, Redknapp called upon the diminutive forward for a rare start and the latter duly excelled, registering a fine individual effort to boot. However, he must be questioning whether sporadic outings are enough to warrant inclusion in Fabio Capello’s all important, final squad for next summer’s European Championships.

Wayne Rooney’s recent misdemeanour opened up a window for a host of England strikers who now believe they can fill-in for a majority of their team’s group games. In the early days of the Capello’s tenure he set his stall out early by declaring sole interest in players who are first team regulars, so Defoe’s current anguish must be intensifying by the week. Witnessing the spar that is developing between England’s strikers, for that potential European outing, defines fascination but Defoe’s direct, and sometimes selfish style of play make him unique – however, both his footballing managers face limitations when he plays.

Capello has now seemingly warmed to the contemporary 4-2-3-1 but it remains to be seen whether the Italian would entrust Defoe to spearhead his attack. Therefore, to get the best from the Defoe it can be argued the incorporation of an old-fashioned 4-4-2 is required but following the torrent of abuse Capello endured after England’s torrid World Cup affair in South Africa, he will be advised to not follow suit.

The domestic season is the proverbial marathon – and with the Europa League presumably embedded in their New Year calendar – Redknapp’s resources, to the benefit of Defoe, will be stretched. The latter’s determination to ruffle Redknapp’s unyielding first-choice mindset should not be underestimated after he admitted to getting extra-curricular help from French fitness guru, Tiberius Darau. Attitude from players plays a massive part in modern football and it must please Redknapp to hear of the 29-year-old’s dedicated approach in optimising his outlook.

This professionalism emanating from Defoe is not only a trait that appeases Redknapp, but is also a distinction his national manager will have noted; and it is he who must decide where the Tottenham man spends next summer. It remains to be seen then, whether a season constructed with a cameo narrative and mere glimpses of brilliance, is enough to make the Italian go back on his declaration.

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