Defoe the best in England says Redknapp

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The Independent Football

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp hailed Jermain Defoe as the finest finisher available to England boss Fabio Capello after his striker produced the best individual goalscoring performance in the Premier League for a decade.

Defoe struck five times in the 9-1 demolition of Wigan at White Hart Lane yesterday, matching Alan Shearer's haul for Newcastle against Sheffield Wednesday in 1999.

Capello has not always automatically chosen Defoe but the 27-year-old is putting forward a compelling case to go to the World Cup next year after the misery of missing out in favour of Theo Walcott in 2006.

"He's an amazing finisher," said Redknapp. "When you look at England strikers, Wayne Rooney's fantastic - a complete all-round player - but as a finisher, Defoe is the best out there.

"I'm sure he'll go to the World Cup. Fabio Capello will see the goals he's scored, the way he's got stronger this season and is using his upper body strength a bit more and holding people off, and he will be impressed.

"This could be a great season for him."

Peter Crouch, Aaron Lennon and Niko Kranjcar also netted against Wigan, while David Bentley's free-kick went in after hitting the bar and rebounding off Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland, who had a decent game despite the scoreline.

Defoe put his shooting boots on after a last-minute change of footwear in the warm-up.

"I had a funny feeling before the game," Defoe said. "Adidas gave me a pair of green boots and I tried them on before the game, but Clive Allen said I couldn't wear them, so I changed them. They were pinkish silver ones in the end, and I go and score five."

Defoe paid tribute to Lennon for his assists, adding: "Azza made the difference. He's so direct. When you've got someone with that pace in the team, he's so direct it's just easy for everyone.

"He gets the ball, you just leave him in a one-on-one and get in the box. Two fantastic crosses which I made sure my movement was right and I got on the end of them and scored."

Nine goals brought three points that sent Spurs back into the Champions League places, level on points with rivals Arsenal.

"For us we can't get complacent. We must go to the next game which is Villa away and try and get three points again," Defoe said. "Winning games brings confidence but to score nine goals in one game is fantastic for everyone."

Wigan's goal came from Paul Scharner, who appeared to handle before lashing in, offering a reminder of Thierry Henry's handball last week.

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is hoping his side are not psychologically scarred from the defeat.

"The damage of this won't be carried into the next game," said the Spaniard. "We have enough characters in the dressing room and we need to react in the right way.

"From the mental point of view, we'll get stronger from this. This is a very unique situation but we can use it in a positive way in terms of learning from these situations."