Sunderland’s Jermain Defoe ready for boo boys on return to Toronto

SAFC training at the Academy of Light on Tuesday morning - Defoe
SAFC training at the Academy of Light on Tuesday morning - Defoe

Jermain Defoe is braced to be on the receiving end of the boo boys, ahead of his return to former club Toronto FC.

Sunderland round off their pre-season trip to North America when they take on MLS outfit Toronto here in Canada in the early hours of Thursday morning - a friendly which was agreed as part of January’s swap deal involving Defoe and Jozy Altidore.

I might get a few boos but that’s alright

Jermain Defoe

Defoe netted 11 goals in 19 appearances during his single season with Toronto after a lucrative move across the Atlantic from Spurs.

However, it was an injury-hit campaign in the MLS for the England striker, who was also keen to return to the Premier League in January, before Sunderland’s eagerness to offload Altidore suited all parties.

Given the hype which had first accompanied his transfer, Defoe has his critics in North America, even though the 32-year-old is eagerly anticipating the tussle with his former club. Defoe said: “I might get a few boos, but that’s alright.

“I don’t mind that. It’s fine.

“It will be good to go back, I’ve still got a lot of friends there and I’m looking forward to it.

“Obviously, I want to win the game.

“It’s pre-season, but you want to win the game.

“It will be nice for me, but at the same time, it’s an important match for us and that’s what we have to focus on.”

Sunderland suffered defeats in each of their first two North American friendlies after fatigue and jet lag saw them to succumb to both Sacramento Republic and Club de Futbol Pachuca in California.

It won’t be any easier for Dick Advocaat’s side against Toronto, with the MLS season at the halfway point.

But Defoe believes Sunderland have to start stretching themselves during the friendly programme now after knocking off the rust during the early part of pre-season.

“It will be a good test for us because they’re a strong team, an MLS team,” he added.

“But that’s what we need.

“We need to be playing against teams who are fitter than us - teams who are sharp, to get us ready for the start of the season.”