Platt applies brake to Defoe's acceleration

Ian Parkes
Friday 28 March 2003 01:00

Jermain Defoe's progress into the senior England squad has been stalled by David Platt, who requires the striker's talents for a testing Under-21 match against Portugal tonight.

Defoe, who has matured rapidly during a frustrating season at West Ham in which he has scored 10 goals, was under consideration for the European Championship qualifying games against Liechtenstein and Turkey. However, such is the esteem in which Defoe is held by Platt that the Under-21 coach says it is his fault the 20-year-old, who he described as "phenomenal", is not in the seniors.

Instead Defoe is preparing for Under-21 qualifying games against Portugal tonight at the Municipal Stadium in Rio Maior, and Turkey at St James' Park on Tuesday. "We spoke about it and he told me his reasons," Defoe said. "It would be nice to get into the seniors, it would be a good achievement, but the Under-21s is a good standard."

Defoe will be partnered up front by Newcastle's Shola Ameobi against the Portuguese as England seek to end a run of four defeats to their hosts. With two wins from their opening two group games against Slovakia and Macedonia, it is imperative England build on an impressive start, although they face a tough task in the next five days.

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