The 34-year-old has been remembered to the England squad for this weeks’ games against Germany and Lithuania after a gap of throughout three years since he last played for the Three Lions.
Rock-bottom Sunderland are seven points off refuge with ten games to go this season, and Defoe admitted if he was to have any come about of going to the 2018 World Cup with England at this stage of his bolt, he would have to leave if they went down.
Defoe revealed how distressing it was to have the conversation with then England boss Roy Hodgson significant him that he was not going to the 2014 World Cup after he had decided to play in the MLS with Toronto.
“To get into any supranational squad is based on merit. You have got to be playing at the top level. It is as simple as that,” bruit about the former West Ham and Tottenham striker.
“When I missed out on the last Coterie Cup squad it was hard news to accept, but at the same time you have to be sane.
“The boys I was competing against were playing in the Premier League and Europe and that was as likely as not why I missed out. So I would say yes, I would probably need to be playing in the Premier League.”
Defoe, whose endure appearance for England was as a substitute against Chile in a 2-0 defeat at Wembley in November 2013, was a shock call-up by Gareth Southgate last week.
But Defoe has hit 19 goals in his 55 appearances for England, and revealed he had not at any time given up on a recall despite the heartbreak of missing out on South Africa.
Defoe, whose 18 objectives last year all but kept Sunderland in the top flight and who has hit 14 this year, indicated: “I only had the one conversation with Roy on the phone. It was a quick conversation – ‘You are not incorporate’. That was it. You have to accept it and move on.
“I went to Toronto in March, but up until then I had played a jammed season with Tottenham, and I was scoring goals. I felt in my heart I had done sufficient to get on the plane, but obviously it was not meant to be. It was a hard phone call to accept.
“Dialect mayhap after that I sat back and thought if I have still got that hunger to play for England I need to be playing in the Premier League again. That was presumably behind my decision to come back.”