David Moyes hopes that Jermain Defoe’s England recall can prove to young players that Wearside is a place where they can fulfil their international ambitions.
The Black Cats have struggled to attract players to the club in recent seasons and have not been helped by a sense that ambitions to play for your country, particularly England, are better served at other clubs.
Defoe has earned a call-up after a prolonged period of superb goal scoring form, with Gareth Southgate saying that he did not want ‘age to be a barrier’.
With Jordan Henderson set to wear the captain’s armband and Jordan Pickford already having spent time in the senior set-up, Moyes hopes it will be easier to sell the club to young players.
He said: “I think for Sunderland, to have a couple of players involved with England, shows players, and a lot of the young English players, who are maybe on loan at clubs, maybe if you come to Sunderland you might get the league games and maybe you’ll be fortunate enough to go on and play for England.
“Jordan Henderson has gone on to become England captain, you’ve got Jordan Pickford, they’re are the young ones, even the old ones are getting in the team in Jermain.”
Defoe’s call-up has been warmly received on Wearside, though fans will be anxious that he returns in one piece ahead of a defining set of games for the Black Cats.
Moyes, however, insists that the news is only a positive for him.
He said: “It is only positive for me. I’ve always said, I’ve always wanted my players to play for their country, because I think it is the biggest achievement they can get.
“I’ve never pulled any players out of them, I’ve always wanted them to go because I think it is prestigious for the club as well.”
Moyes has paid tribute to Defoe’s longevity and professionalism as he looks to force his way into the England side for tonight’s friendly with Germany.
Defoe has a good chance of featuring, with Southgate only able to call on Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford as the other natural strikers in his squad.
Rashford and Vardy have both also spent time playing on the wing for England, though Vardy is likely to start up front in both of England’s upcoming games.
Moyes says that Defoe is back in the fold after so long out is a remarkable achievement.
He said: “I think everybody recognises playing in a struggling side at this point, still scoring goals in a struggling side.
“I think Jermain has got the ability to score probably at any level, in and around any players, because of how good his finishing is.
“The big thing is he’s kept himself sharp, fit with his lifestyle, he’s not a drinker, so far all those reasons I think it is great for him and his family.
“It’s a great achievement to get back in when you’ve been out for a while as an older player, obviously you’ve got Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, who have played to their mid-30s, Rooney still playing, it’s a great thing because it shows the level of work you’ve done, keeping yourself fit.”