It has been more than three years since Defoe has featured in the England squad, but he has been recalled and Gareth Southgate says he could not ignore his form.
The last time the Sunderland striker featured for the three lions was the match against Chile in 2013, coming on as a substitute.
Defoe has scored 14 goals for the bottom placed Sunderland and Southgate believes he must be rewarded.
“Year after year he is phenomenal but particularly this season in a team that perhaps aren’t creating as many chances as other teams,” Southgate said, whose England side will play a friendly against Germany in Dortmund on March 22 before the World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley on March 26.
“His strike rate is outstanding so I didn’t want to just look at his age and think ‘he is finished with England’.
“He is somebody that is immensely proud to have represented England at every age group.
“I think you get young players with a point to prove and older players with a point to prove. I think he still feels that.
“He warrants the call-up. I have to look at getting results short, medium and long-term. With this squad, we are definitely nodding towards the future with some of the decisions that we are making.
“But also you need senior players around that to educate some of the younger ones to show them some of the things they need to learn and also the competition is important.”