The Daily Mail are reporting this morning that Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe is set to start for England tonight at Wembley in their World Cup qualifier against Lithuania (5pm kick off).
It seems fitting that Defoe - who has scored 14 goals in the Premier League this season - will walk out on to the Wembley pitch with young Sunderland supporter Bradley Lowery as his mascot, a young man who needs no introduction to any of us.
Bradley's battle against a serious form of cancer, Neuroblastoma, has captured the hearts of football fans worldwide since he was given the chance to lead Sunderland out on to the pitch last September against Everton, and even before the squad was selected he was asked if he would walk the national team out for their game against Lithuania this evening.
Reunited with his best mate at Wembley! https://t.co/IVVHn8m1OY— Fantasy iTeam (@fantasyiteam) 26 March 2017
With an attacking midfield four of Lallana, Alli, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sterling behind him it will be interesting to see how Defoe performs against a Lithuania team who are currently ranked 107th in the world by FIFA. The Eastern European side, currently managed by former Hearts player Edgaras Jankauskas, lost 3-0 on Wednesday night in a friendly against the Czech Republic and are 4th in Group F, once place ahead of Scotland.
Probable England team: Hart Walker Stones Keane Bertrand Dier Oxlade-Chamberlain Sterling Alli Lallana Defoe— paul joyce (@_pauljoyce) 26 March 2017
Defoe's last appearance in an England shirt came against Chile at Wembley in November 2013, with the then Spurs forward coming on as a substitute in the 65th minute.
Soon after that game Defoe moved from North London to Toronto, where he endured an indifferent year in the MLS which was ended abruptly when he was transferred to Sunderland in a move which saw Jozy Altidore move the other way.
Ever since then Defoe has constantly wrote off the doubters who said he was too old to play for England - he has scored 36 goals since arriving at Sunderland just over two years ago, a feat made even more remarkable when you consider just how bad we have been throughout the entirety of his time as a player on Wearside.
Defoe ended last season with a tally of eighteen goals and should have been selected by Roy Hodgson as part of the squad that went to France to take part in the Euro 2016 tournament but, bizarrely, he didn't and England crashed out far earlier than anyone had envisioned.
As far as Sunderland are concerned this is a positive step in the right direction - for many years now Sunderland's players have been ignored by national team selectors, regardless of form. Darren Bent's omission from Fabio Capello's 2010 World Cup squad despite finishing as the top English scorer in the top flight that season is perhaps the most notable example, whilst other players such as Adam Johnson and Lee Cattermole both went through spells of form in the past which should have earned them call ups to play for their country, but ultimately it never happened.