Gareth Southgate says if Jermain Defoe keeps scoring goals there’s “no reason” why he won’t be considered for selection for the World Cup.
The 34-year-old Sunderland striker, who has previously netted 20 goals in 56 appearances for England, returned after a three-year absence to score the opening goal as the Three Lions defeated Lithuania 2-0 in a qualifying match on Sunday.
Jamie Vardy added the second goal to help secure the win that sees England occupy top spot in Group F, on 13 points from five games.
After the match, Southgate said: “It was a great moment for him. He was thrilled to be back involved in the squad. He has enjoyed his week immensely.
“His professionalism was great for some of the other players to see. He’s had a really positive impact on everybody.
“We selected him on form. We’ve got really good competition for places. We need to have that. For Jermain to come in, for Michael Keane to come in and play as well as he has done, has been a real bonus for us.”
He added: “We’ve got to look every time we get together as to who’s in form. I don’t know if we can have a pecking order because players that are playing well deserve that opportunity. We’ve got to have that competition for places.
“The reality is that you will always lose players to injury. It’s really important that we are able to call upon the likes of Jermain.
“But if he’s scoring goals in the Premier League and playing as well as he has this season, there’s absolutely no reason why he couldn’t [go to the World Cup].”
Defoe was recalled to the national team after scoring 14 Premier League goals this season.
Up next for England is a World Cup qualifier against Scotland on Saturday 10 June.