Defoe ready to replace Rooney

England striker targets 100 per cent start in World Cup qualifying

Jermain Defoe: Scored a hat-trick when starting England's first game in qualifying for Euro 2012

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Striker Jermain Defoe is ready to fill the void left by Wayne Rooney and get England off to the perfect start in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

With Rooney missing due to a thigh injury and Andy Carroll having withdrawn through a hamstring problem, Defoe looks set to lead the line for the double-header against Moldova and Ukraine.

Much has been made of England's shortage of strikers and their lack of first-team football at club level as Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck make up the only other orthodox forwards in the squad.

Defoe, though, is by far and away the most experienced of the attacking options, with any appearance in the forthcoming qualifiers taking him past 50 caps for his country, and he is ready to step up.

"It is pressure but it is good pressure. We have got a strong squad. It is a good mix of the young and the senior lads"

Jermain Defoe

Quotes of the week

"I think you can say that," he admitted at a press conference when asked whether the absence of Rooney adds to the level of responsibility on his shoulders.

"But I think there is more responsibility on the whole squad.

"We don't know what the team is going to be yet, so it is a just a case of training well, working hard and, if selected, you have got to grab it with both hands and make sure you perform."

Rhythm

The games against Moldova, on Friday, and Ukraine, on Tuesday, will mark the beginning of England's road to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

And Defoe is hoping for a repeat of the start of England's last qualifying campaign for Euro 2012, when the Tottenham striker started and scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Bulgaria.

"Everyone wants to start games," he said. "It is not easy when you come on as a sub to get straight into the game. It is quite difficult.

"When you start the game, you get your full rhythm, it's better."

England first take on Moldova in Chisinau before hosting Ukraine at Wembley and Defoe is targeting nothing less than two wins.

"I think it has to be," when asked if there was a need for six points out of six. "It is pressure but it is good pressure. We have got a strong squad.

"It is a good mix of the young and the senior lads."

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