Jermain Defoe started 2009 as England’s seventh choice striker, but the Spurs man has seen his fortunes turn around and is now fully focussed on being selected for next year’s World Cup.
Despite scoring almost a goal every other league game in his time at Portsmouth, the 26-year-old failed to settle on the south coast and returned back to Spurs in January for a second spell at White Hart Lane.
The latest link-up with Harry Redknapp, after working with the manager at West Ham and Pompey, has boosted Defoe’s confidence and the striker is looking to hit the ground running in the upcoming Premier League campaign.
Although he only started eight league games in the second-half of last season due to injury, Defoe is eyeing a regular place this time around and the arrival of ex-Pompey team-mate Peter Crouch will only help his international claims.
Defoe, who scored twice in June’s 6-0 win over Andorra, admitted: “There is plenty of competition but it does not bother me. I know what I have to do to get to the World Cup and I will do whatever it takes to get on that plane.
“It's a massive season with the World Cup at the end of it and especially after what happened to me last time when I didn't go. I want to make sure I am on the plane this time. The prospect of getting there fires me on even more.”
If the tournament was next month, Fabio Capello would almost certainly select Defoe to be part of the squad for South Africa – should the manager take five strikers.
Wayne Rooney is the only certainty with Crouch, Emile Heskey and Defoe looking like the next three in line. It seems a good football bet that Michael Owen’s move to Manchester United will push him up the list, while Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent need to show more improvement to stake their claims.