Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney expects Jermain Defoe back at the MLS club for pre-season training later this month, despite reports linking the striker with a return to the Premier League.
Defoe, 32, is understood to be angling for a move back to England after just one season in Toronto, with the likes of Crystal Palace, Hull, Leicester, Liverpool and Queens Park Rangers all linked to his signature.
The unsettled striker is training with former club Tottenham Hotspur at present, having recovered from an operation on a troublesome groin issue which hampered his form over the final months of the 2014 season, but Vanney insists he remains an important part of the team’s plans moving forward.
“As of right now, Defoe should be in a little bit earlier, just because he’s coming back from injury and we want to check in on him,” he told the club’s official website.
“Aside from that, we’ll do the medicals on the weekend before the 26th [January], but the 17th is the plan for Defoe.”
Toronto have also been linked with a high-profile move for Sunderland misfit Jozy Altidore this week, along with MLS rivals the New York Red Bulls and the Portland Timbers, and Vanney has revealed that discussions with the US international are on-going.
“Any time a big-time player is coming back to the league we want to be in the discussion,” he said.
“There are a lot of mechanisms that have to be in place for those things to happen, but if there’s a discussion with a guy who understands the league, and has been successful here, then we want to be involved.
“Who knows where it ends up, but we’re going to be there if there’s a discussion, and the same would be said if any other big player is coming back who we could add to our roster and make us a better team.”
Considering TFC have all three Designated Player slots filled at present, a move for Altidore could well hang on Defoe’s future, but all appears set to become clearer over the coming weeks.