Defoe: England can stay unbeaten

  • Last Updated: September 13 2012, 0:08 BST

Jermain Defoe backed England to go through World Cup qualifying unbeaten after helping them snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat against Ukraine.

Jermain Defoe: Confident of qualification

Striker Defoe claimed Frank Lampard's late equaliser from the penalty spot in Tuesday night's 1-1 draw at Wembley proved the Three Lions had the "winning mentality" needed to top Group H.

England were within three minutes of losing a competitive game at home for the first time in five years on Tuesday night after being outplayed for long periods by opponents they beat at this summer's European Championship.

A draw saw them drop from first to second in the group but it could have been even worse, which would have been a worrying setback with tough-looking trips to Poland, Montenegro and Ukraine still to come.

Defoe claimed he had no fear at any stage on Tuesday night that England would lose and added: "We've got a lot of games left to play.

"It doesn't look like we're going to get beaten, to be fair.

"We're playing games and we believe we won't get beaten. So that's good we've got a winning mentality.

"Just unlucky that we didn't actually win the game."

Defoe certainly did not enjoy the rub of the green after seeing what would have been a superb goal chalked off for a push.

The quality of his strike was a further riposte to those who claim the diminutive 29-year-old cannot operate as a lone frontman.

Manager Roy Hodgson clearly believes otherwise after handing him rare back-to-back competitive starts in the past week, with last night the first time the striker had played the full match in his 51 caps for his country.

Although frustrated at being unable to celebrate the amazing landmark with his third goal in as many games, Defoe said: "It's always nice when you get to play, helps your confidence.

"I'm playing with good players. It makes it a lot easier.

"And even if I'm playing that lone role up front on my own, it's not a problem.

"The lads get close to me, service is good, and it's something I'm enjoying."

Having earned the vast majority of his caps from the bench, Defoe found himself England's first-choice striker arguably for the first time in his career.

The man who turns 30 in less than a month joked: "That's not old, that's young. I feel young anyway.

"It's good. I'm enjoying it. It's good to play. I just want to keep playing."

Defoe has enjoyed integrating with genuine young players, such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tom Cleverley, both of whom started again on Tuesday night.

Hodgson was also forced to turn to the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Ryan Bertrand to try to salvage a draw in the wake of injuries to key men such as Wayne Rooney, John Terry and Ashley Cole.

Defoe said: "I think the lads have come in and done really well.

"Ox started, Cleverley started again - it was fantastic.

"I think it's a good mix now with the older lads and the younger lads.

"So, yeah, it looks good."

England ended the game with 10 men after skipper Steven Gerrard was sent off for a second bookable offence late on, but Defoe did not agree with the decision.

"I couldn't believe it," he said. "The first booking was, he said, for an elbow.

"I got booked for the same thing, but you have to use your arms when you jump. It's natural.

"The red card for Stevie was massively disappointing."