'The goals have been a long time coming' says Defoe

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The Independent Online

What Jermain Defoe has lost in confidence during the difficult past 12 months of his career he has gained in maturity, and so it was with a philosophical air that the Tottenham striker vented his frustrations only on Andorra on Saturday and not, irrespective of the temptation, Martin Jol or Sven Goran Eriksson.

The calibre of the opposition meant little to the 23-year-old at Old Trafford as he registered his first goals at international level for two years and delivered a second encouraging display under Steve McClaren to justify the England manager's tacit faith in his worth. Having been strangely omitted from England's World Cup squad, Defoe also lost his regular place at White Hart Lane this year, a situation complicated further this summer by the arrival of £10.9m Dimitar Berbatov and the permanent return of Mido, this was an occasion that may have once found Defoe settling scores on and off the pitch. Times, however, have changed.

Where once the striker would have been banging on Jol's door to demand an explanation for his exclusion there is now only a quiet determination to illustrate his worth, a quality noted by McClaren when Defoe kept his counsel as a stand-by striker to Theo Walcott in Germany and refused to publicly condemn Eriksson.

The England manager may want all his charges to be playing regularly for their clubs, but Defoe has at least answered his call to show that, "If you have the shirt, you have to keep it."

"The goals have been a long time coming," admitted Defoe, whose previous and only England goal came in a World Cup qualifier against Poland two years ago but whose 17 caps constitute mostly substitute appearances. "It is difficult to make an impact and score a goal when you only come on as a substitute and so I'm delighted to be back in the team. The manager has been fantastic with me and it has been tremendous training with him this week.

"I have been frustrated this season. I played against Bolton, but it has been frustrating on the bench but hopefully I can go back and get into the team now. It has been difficult, especially last season when there were times I thought I had to speak to the manager, but I suppose I've just got to let my football do the talking."

Not even the imminent return of Wayne Rooney from suspension after Wednesday's game against Macedonia could dampen Defoe's mood at Old Trafford. "I don't worry about it to be honest. I'm just happy to start for England and to score two goals."

The England captain John Terry was pleased with the performance despite being on a "hiding to nothing". Terry added: "Everyone expected us to win. Andorra made it really difficult for us because they got everyone behind the ball, committed a lot of fouls and tried to time-waste. But we have come out of the game with five goals, three points and no injuries."

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