Sam Allardyce would give England boss Roy Hodgson a glowing report on Jermain Defoe if the striker came under consideration for the Euro 2016 squad.
The 33-year-old frontman fired Sunderland to the brink of Premier League safety on Saturday with a precious winner against Chelsea, in the process taking his tally for the season to 18 goals in all competitions.
A day later, Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck succumbed to the knee injury which has led to speculation that he could miss the tournament in France, and with Black Cats fans incredulous that Defoe’s name has barely been mentioned, Allardyce has no doubts about the former Tottenham marksman’s enduring potency.
He said: “I just think that if Roy needed anybody to go along with the experience Jermain has when he needs a goal – maybe not from the start sometimes – Jermain would be your man if he felt he needed it, because he has proven that this year.
“He’s had a big run of games that he has not had for a few years and he has been a consistent performer at the highest level again and scored 18 goals in all competitions.
“That leaves him around the third or the fourth highest scorer in the Premier League in all competitions this year, which is pretty miraculous in a team that’s been sat in the bottom three or four all season.”
Defoe won the last of his 55 senior England caps as a substitute in a 2-0 friendly defeat by Chile at Wembley in November 2013, but has previously said he would like to resume his international career.
Allardyce revealed Hodgson has not been in touch with him to ask about the player, but the manager has every confidence in Defoe’s ability after seeing him cap a fine season with a trademark finish in Saturday’s 3-2 win.
He said: “I’d have to have a word with Jermain about that, whether it’s even crossed his mind, or has it crossed Roy’s mind? Who knows? I don’t know that.
“But Jermain Defoe, arguably his performance this year and his goals particularly may have caused Roy to just take a little look and if he’s there, he knows how much experience he’s got, he knows he can do it at that level.
“For the first time for a few years, he’s consistently played week in and week out for us at Sunderland and delivered, and delivered in a position that people questioned that he could deliver in, which is as a central striker on his own.
“He’s done all that in what’s been a struggle for us for most of the year, so it’s a great credit to him and his professionalism and dedication, and his ability in front of goal.
“We couldn’t have asked for the ball to drop any better than it did for that third goal to Jermain. He’d be the one on the pitch we would have all wanted it to drop to, and he didn’t disappoint us.”
Defoe will get a chance to add to his tally on Wednesday evening when the Black Cats host Everton knowing a win would secure their top-flight status and send Newcastle and Norwich down.
But whatever happens this week, Sunderland will know they got the better end of the bargain when they sent Jozy Altidore to Toronto in exchange for Defoe in January last year.
Allardyce said: “He scored two goals in two years didn’t he, Altidore, somebody told me? So that was a good swap, that was a good deal, wasn’t it?”