England’s Defoe returns home after father dies

June 7, 2012, 12:29 PM

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

KRAKOW, Poland — England striker Jermain Defoe flew home from the European Championship on Thursday following the death of his father.

Defoe is expected to return to the tournament and the English Football Association said he will not be replaced in the 23-man squad, which had only arrived at its Euro 2012 base in the Polish city of Krakow on Wednesday.

The death of Jimmy Defoe overnight after being treated by cancer specialists was announced as England held its first training session here before its opening match in Group D, against France on Monday.

"I want to thank the fans, my family &friends, the England boys, the FA & the manager for their support. I can’t tell you how much it means to me," Defoe wrote on Twitter. "I love you all, may God bless you. A special thank you to Royal Marsden’s doctors & nurses who looked after my dad v.special people."

It is unclear if Defoe will return from England in time for the match in Donetsk, Ukraine, where coach Roy Hodgson’s striking options are already limited because of Wayne Rooney’s two-match suspension.

"Jermain will re-join the England Euro squad in due course," the FA said. "There will be no replacement player called in."

Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck and Liverpool’s Andy Carroll are the other forwards in the squad.

It is unlikely Defoe would have started against France since he only played in one of England’s two warmup matches, as a second-half substitute in a 1-0 win over Belgium on Saturday.

Hodgson has already lost a trio of key squad players, with midfielders Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry, and defender Gary Cahill ruled out through injury.

Defender Ashley Cole was the only remaining squad member who did not attend an official reception for them hosted by Krakow’s mayor on Thursday night. The FA only said Cole was "resting" at the team hotel nearby, but declined to say why that was the case.

Centre back John Terry took part in a private training session on Thursday morning after fears over a hamstring injury earlier in the week.

"He was fine — flying round like he does," goalkeeper Joe Hart said. "He doesn’t seem to be holding back."

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