Jermain Defoe absence following father's death depletes England attack

 

Jermain Defoe may yet be unavailable for England's first Euro 2012 game against France on Monday having returned home yesterday following the death of his father, Jimmy, which will potentially leave Roy Hodgson with just two available strikers for the match.

Arrangements around Defoe are fluid after his father died during Wednesday night, following a long battle with throat cancer. The Football Association anticipates that he could be back with the squad before the game in Donetsk but it is not certain whether he would be a viable proposition to play a part in the game having missed so many training sessions.

Given Wayne Rooney's suspension for the first two Group D games, Defoe's unavailability would leave Hodgson with just Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck from the original four strikers he picked. They have two goals between them at international level. Defoe returned home yesterday with an FA chaperone and the organisation will play it by ear when it comes to bringing him back out.

Hodgson was aware of the extent of the illness Jimmy, who was 47, was suffering from – and that Jermain may have to return home – when he picked Defoe in his squad. The England manager decided that he wished to pick Defoe in his squad regardless.

Jimmy, who was treated at the Royal Marsden hospital, split from Jermain's mother Sandra when Jermain was just one year old and lived a life far removed from that of his Premier League footballer son.

Jimmy was interviewed by the People newspaper in October 2005 in which he admitted taking crack cocaine and to a lifestyle that frequently brought him into contact with drug addicts. He said at the time that he had little contact with his son. An ex-girlfriend of his had alleged that he had pawned a watch given to him by his son in order to buy alcohol.

Jimmy told the People in 2005: "I know I have embarrassed Jermain. My biggest regret is not being there for him when I should have. I'm not the best father in the world."

Jermain's half-brother Jade, known as Gavin, another of Jimmy's four sons, was killed in 2009 at the age of 26 as a result of being punched in the head in a street in Stratford, east London. The following year, Christopher Farley was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to three years in jail. The Old Bailey jury also passed a note to the judge which was critical of Jade's treatment at Whipps Cross intensive care unit.

While on England duty in September 2009, Jermain, 29, recalled the day in which his mother had come to Spurs' training ground to tell him that Jade had hours to live. His half-brother suffered a fractured skull and severe brain damage when his head struck the pavement after the punch from Farley.

Jermain said of his half-brother Jade: "He was 26 years old. You don't expect to see that. When people are ill it's easier to understand when they die. You prepare yourself. You know it's going to happen at some time. But when it's like it was with Jade and you just get the phone call it's really not easy."

Shane Defoe, another of Jimmy's sons, was given a trial at Gillingham last summer but was not offered a contract by the League Two club.

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