Jermain Defoe is due to undergo surgery on a groin injury next week and has "no chance" of playing in England's Euro 2012 qualifying matches against Bulgaria and Switzerland next month according to Harry Redknapp. The Tottenham manager added that he would play "60 minutes" at most tonight as the London club aim to turn around a 3-2 deficit from the Champions League play-off first leg against Swiss club Young Boys of Bern.
Defoe, 27, has an appointment with a specialist on Monday, and the club's medical staff say he is 90 per cent certain to need an operation the next day, ruling him out of the games against Bulgaria at Wembley on 3 September and Switzerland in Basle four days later.
The timing of the procedure is sure to further strain the rocky relationship between the England manager Fabio Capello and Redknapp, who have clashed publicly on numerous occasions.
Redknapp yesterday insisted the operation is necessary as Defoe is unable to train fully, and that the first apointment with the specialist is next week. "He [Defoe] will be out for a couple of weeks," Redknapp said. "He won't be fit for England, no chance. He was supposed to have it on Thursday, but the specialist who would have done it can't do it until after the weekend which is a blow for us, but he has got to have it done. He's hardly been training, and it's getting worse all the time."
Defoe aggravated the injury in last week's 3-2 loss. Redknapp rested him for last weekend's 2-1 win over Stoke and says he will not last more than an hour in tonight's second leg against Young Boys at White Hart Lane.
"60 minutes is about as long as he can last. He wants to play and train but he has to have it done now, he can't go on like that," Redknapp said. He admitted the priority was to ensure that Defoe would be fit for the Champions League should Tottenham progress tonight. "It is getting worse each time, the pain. I'm not sure if he will start."
"I've had it for a few months," Defoe said. "The manager knows what I'm like. If I can I'll always be out there training. I've worked with the physios to try to strengthen it and get myself out there to try to help the team. If it means coming off after 60 minutes then so be it.
"I might need an op but the lucky thing is it's a straightforward op. I'll only be out for seven days. Alan Hutton had the same thing and so did Didier Drogba. The problem would go completely and I'd only miss seven days of training."
Defoe, who has 12 goals from 43 England caps, said he has been playing through injury since the World Cup finals in June. It ruled him out of the recent friendly with Hungary, when Capello gave a full debut to Bobby Zamora, but Defoe still features strongly in Capello's plans for the future.
Defoe's forced withdrawal would add to controversies surrounding the England squad announcement, as speculation that Capello could select Everton's Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta refuses to die down. Arteta has been resident in England for five years and would qualify through dual nationality, having not played for Spain's senior side.
Who stands to gain from Defoe's absence?
The Tottenham target man was dropped by Fabio Capello for the recent friendly against Hungary but he could be handed a reprieve. Crouch boasts the best strike rate of all England strikers, with 21 goals from his 40 appearances, but Capello has seemed unconvinced of his ability.
Impressed on his full debut against Hungary two weeks ago, and his success at linking up with the midfield suggests he could be an option. If Zamora plays, however, the burden of providing goals falls on Wayne Rooney, who is currently suffering the worst drought of his career.
In his five seasons as an England player, Bent has managed just six caps and no goals. Also his habit of withdrawing from squads with injury has hardly endeared himself to the management. However his return of 24 Premier League goals last season makes his case for him.
First Agbonlahor must shake off a hamstring injury but the opportunity is there for him to claim a place as the most obvious like-for-like replacement for Defoe. He enjoyed his best season for Villa last time around with 16 goals in 41 games, but was unfortunate to be overlooked by Capello.
The 21-year-old's brilliant hat-trick against Aston Villa on Sunday was watched by Capello's assistant Franco Baldini. The young Geordie may be a long shot having already been called into the Under-21s but there could yet be a senior opening for the man of the moment.