Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Defoe expects to shine off bench

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 3 Jun 2012

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England striker Jermain Defoe believes he can be the perfect impact substitute for Roy Hodgson at Euro 2012.

Going in to the tournament it would appear that Defoe is Hodgson’s fourth-choice striker.

However, after an impressive cameo role from the bench against Belgium on Saturday, when he hit the post, it would seem he is the manager’s best option from the dugout.

The Tottenham striker is blessed with lightning-quick pace and unerring composure in front of goal.

Consequently he is more than likely to be used towards the end of games when opposition defenders’ legs are tiring.

Defoe told reporters: “I’ll try my best.

“It’s important to have that at a tournament – not only players that actually start the game, players that can come on and make an impact – especially in tournaments when some games go down to extra time.

“You get to semi-finals and, hopefully, finals and then fatigue kicks in. You’ve got to just stay focused on the bench. You might get a chance to win the game – you never know.

“So, it’s important just to keep sharp, watch the game as you’re not playing and get on and try to make an impact. I believe I can do that.”

The 29-year-old has had a mixed season with Tottenham, regularly finding himself out of the starting XI; but when handed a starting role he often delivered a goal.

The substitute appearance against Belgium was the diminutive striker’s first game for his country in more than 12 months.

Defoe added: “It has been a while. It’s always nice to play for your country. I was delighted to get on.

“When I got the shot off, I thought it was in. But, I suppose I’ll take that. Hopefully, when I get over there, that one will go in.”

England do not go into these championships as one of the favourites, but Defoe believes the squad has a better mix of players, compared to previous years.

The striker said: “It’s probably a better mix. A lot of the younger lads have come through, which is really good, to be honest – a lot of energy.

“After the season, we had a little rest – 10 days off – so I think that helps as well. There’s always going to be pressure, not only in championships – the games in general. We’re a great footballing nation. We’ve got great players.

“It’s important for the players to just enjoy it. This is why you play football – to play for your country and to play in major tournaments.

“The manager said to us, ‘Go there and just enjoy it and do the country proud’. There’s a really good feeling representing your country at a major tournament.

“Having played the one before, having experienced it, you just want it again. Hopefully, this time around, we get off to a good start and we do well because I think everyone deserves it.”

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