Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has challenged Jermain Defoe to replace Cristiano Ronaldo as the Premier League's top marksman after seeing the England striker beef himself up over the summer.
Defoe suffered a foot injury in January and started working on his physique - then continued his gym sessions in pre-season, resulting in his explosive form at the start of the campaign.
"At the start of the season I tipped him to be an outsider for the top scorer, he is capable of scoring 20-odd goals and it's about time he did," Redknapp said. "With Ronaldo gone he can be pushing to be the top scorer."
He added: "He's up there with the best in the Premier League when he is playing like he is now. He's so sharp - he's lethal."
The 26-year-old scored twice for England in Holland and followed that up with a hat-trick against Hull this week.
Redknapp feels Defoe is no longer getting brushed off the ball following his work in the gym.
"He's come back stronger this year and looks even quicker with the power he has built through working with the fitness coaches in the gym," he added.
Defoe missed out on the 2006 World Cup - with Sven-Goran Eriksson famously gambling on Theo Walcott - but looks in the frame to be on the plane to South Africa at the end of the season.
Peter Crouch, who has started the season on the bench, also has England ambitions, while Robbie Keane and Roman Pavlyuchenko hope to be at the tournament with Republic of Ireland and Russia respectively. It means Redknapp has plenty of options in attack.
"We've got four top strikers," Redknapp said. "It's up to the England manager, and it's a long way until the World Cup, but Jermain is the man in form at the moment."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms