Jermain Defoe is recovering after having off-season surgery, and remains in Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney’s plans for the future.
But whether or not the Englishman will actually be back with TFC in 2015 remains to be seen.
“He just recently had the [groin] surgery that we all suspected was going to happen at some point. Our focus right now is getting him healthy, and we continue to have ongoing conversations about getting him back here, and what it would look like to get him back on our team,” Vanney told Sportsnet on Thursday.
“It’s an ongoing discussion and right now he’s a Toronto FC player, and as such we continue to build our team with him in mind until something else changes.”
Soccer Central podcast: SPORTSNET.CA's Soccer Central podcast, hosted by John Molinaro and James Sharman, takes an in-depth look at the beautiful game and offers timely and thoughtful analysis on the sport's biggest issues. To listen and subscribe to the podcast, CLICK HERE.
Defoe, 32, inked a four-year deal with the Reds in February as part of the MLS club’s major off-season makeover that also included the signings of fellow designated players Michael Bradley and Gilberto.
Defoe went on to lead Toronto in scoring this season with 11 goals in 19 appearances. But he ended up missing 15 games due to injuries and suspension, as the Reds finished seventh in the Eastern Conference, and failed to qualify for the playoffs for an eight consecutive year.
The former Tottenham star’s future in Toronto has been a hot topic of discussion ever since he spent most of August in his native England seeking treatment on his groin injury.
While he was there, Premier League club Queens Park Rangers tabled an $11-million transfer bid for his services. Toronto turned down the offer, but it led to doubts among fans and members of the media as to whether he was really hurt, or if he went back home simply to try to engineer a transfer move.
Upon his return to Toronto, Defoe repeatedly refuted such claims, but never gave a definitive answer whenever asked by reporters if he'll be back in 2015.
Like Defoe, Vanney was non-committal on Thursday when asked by Sportsnet if he expects Defoe to play for the Reds next year.
“He’s a very talented player and he can make our team better. I’d like to have him back at the club and ready to compete and fight for the successes we are shooting for. But that takes a highly concentrated and motivated Jermain Defoe, and we need to make sure that’s where he’s at,” Vanney said.