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Defoe determined to become Spurs' first choice striker

PUBLISHED: 11:15 21 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:12 07 September 2010

JERMAIN Defoe said he is intent on reclaiming a regular first-team place next season after scoring in Spurs 2-1 win over Manchester City at the Lane on Saturday. Since returning to N17 in January after a 12-month stint with Portsmouth, the England strike

JERMAIN Defoe said he is intent on reclaiming a regular first-team place next season after scoring in Spurs' 2-1 win over Manchester City at the Lane on Saturday.

Since returning to N17 in January after a 12-month stint with Portsmouth, the England striker has been frustrated by being restricted to just nine appearances for Tottenham because of injury this year.

The 26-year-old has been forced to spend over two months on the sidelines because of a stress fracture to a foot, sustained soon after his £15million return to Spurs.

Defoe staked his claim in his bid to be recognised as Tottenham's first-choice striker, netting in the 29th minute in his first start at the Lane since returning from injury.

"I really enjoyed that goal," Defoe told Ham&High Sport. "It was great to be back and just to get out there again.

"I have worked really hard to get fit and I'm feeling really sharp. It's just unfortunate that the season's almost over.

"It was a good win today, and it was important that we got three points and we did that.

"I think everybody wants to be first choice. I love playing football. I love scoring goals and I want to play every game. So I do what I can.

"I work hard in training and do all of my gym work and do everything I can to get a place in the team."

Defoe has netted four times for Tottenham in all competitions since his return to London after a successful year with Portsmouth.

The former Charlton trainee scored 17 goals in 36 games for the south coast team after joining the then Harry Redknapp-managed outfit for £7.5million in early 2008.

Defoe's professional career began at West Ham, where he first worked under manager Redknapp. The young striker forced his way into the West Ham team after netting 19 times in 31 games during a season-long loan spell at Bournemouth.

Defoe scored 41 times in 105 appearances for the Hammers before joining Tottenham, where he netted 64 times in 177 appearances between January 2004 and January 2008.

And the prolific scorer is hoping that his third spell under manager Redknapp will hasten his return to the England line-up.

"It would be nice to be involved [in the national squad] again," said Defoe who has already won 32 caps for England.

"It seems like a lifetime really since I was injured but it would be nice obviously to get a couple more games there and get involved with that."

But Defoe's primary focus is Tottenham's late bid to leap-frog seventh placed Fulham - who currently cling on to the last European place - in Spurs' final game of the season against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

"Fulham have been on a great run, to be honest," said Defoe. "They are a good side. Individually, they have got some good players and a great balance to their team.

"But we have just got to look at ourselves. All we could do today was get three points, which we did and now we can just move on until the next game.

"I think I'll be disappointed [if we don't get a European place] but I think if you look at where we were earlier in the season the lads have done fantastic really. Even when I was injured and seeing the boys play it's been brilliant. The team spirit is great and we have done well considering.

"I think it is always difficult to go to Anfield. They have a fantastic stadium and world-class players and it is going to be a hard game regardless. But we are playing well.

"The lads showed that at United when we went 2-0 up and, hopefully, we can do the same and just take it from there. We know it is going to be a difficult game but we have got a good side as well and they know that."

editorial@hamhigh.co.uk

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