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20 March 2017, 08:33 | Andy Ferguson
Jermain Defoe was recalled to the England squad after his 14 goals for Sunderland this season
He wants to make Gareth Southgate's squad for next year's tournament in Russian Federation - should England qualify - but conceded that would be in doubt if Sunderland were relegated.
"To get into any squad, it's based on merit and you've got to be playing at the top level".
Defoe, who has 55 caps and played for England in the 2010 World Cup finals, said he had never entirely given up hope of a recall despite occasional doubts.
He said: "There were times where I did think "maybe I'm not going to get in", and I came out and said it, but it didn't stop me getting my head down, working hard and hoping one day I'd get an opportunity to represent my country again".
"I've been lucky enough to have experienced it".
"This time around, it's a bit unusual because you are a senior lad and you want to try to help the younger lads, but even the younger lads have got some experience under their belt, which is important".
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With Southgate's men taking on world champions Germany in a friendly this week before a World Cup qualifier with Lithuania, Ward-Prowse says the players want to prove that they can become the top team on the global stage. He's been there and done it - played in major tournaments. I missed out on a World Cup when I went to Toronto.
Defoe's last appearance for his country came in November 2013, but he returns to the squad four years older than any of his teammates.
"The boys I'm competing against are playing in the Premier League and playing in Europe and probably that's why I missed out on the last World Cup".
"I was getting grief from my team-mates for still having the England flag on my boots", he added.
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