Sunderland’s Jermain Defoe focussing on fitness after bagging brace in Toronto

Jermain Defoe.
Jermain Defoe.

Jermain Defoe believes he is beginning to find his feet in Sunderland’s pre-season campaign after netting a double on his return to former club Toronto.

Defoe’s brace in the early hours of this morning here in Canada saw Sunderland conclude their 12-day stint in North America on a high after Dick Advocaat’s men came from a goal down to triumph 2-1 against the MLS outfit.

I had expected the boos a little bit, but that’s part and parcel of football these days.

Jermain Defoe

It was the England international’s first goals of Sunderland’s pre-season campaign, with the Black Cats now facing just two remaining friendlies prior to their Premier League opener at Leicester in a fortnight.

But while head coach Advocaat was unhappy with another rusty performance from Sunderland, Defoe believes he is gradually rediscovering his match fitness.

“I feel like I needed the pre-season,” he said.

“Today was the sharpest I felt in a long time.

“It’s still a case of getting our fitness up.

“But at the same time, you want to be sharp, score goals and win the games.

“We’ve got a couple of weeks until the season starts and we’ve got two more pre-season games.

“By the time the season starts, hopefully we’ll be ready.”

Defoe was booed by the vast majority of the home fans in attendance at BMO Field after his acrimonious exit from Toronto last January in a swap deal for Sunderland flop Jozy Altidore, who missed today’s game through injury.

There is a feeling among Toronto supporters that Defoe didn’t live up to expectations in his injury-hit year-long stint in the MLS after his £6million move from Spurs.

But despite that frosty reception, Defoe enjoyed his return to Canada, with the Sunderland squad returning to the North East later today.

“It was nice to see a lot of faces that I recognise and it was good, a bit strange but I enjoyed it,” he added.

“I had expected the boos a little bit, but that’s part and parcel of football these days.

“You move on, and I understand that there’s fans who won’t be happy.

“But I’ll appreciate the fans here and I enjoyed coming back, it’s a fantastic city.

“Even though I was here for a short space of time, I’ve still got a lot of friends here.”