England squad: Gareth Southgate makes a few shock calls for Germany and Lithuania | Football | Sport
Defoe, 34, has not played for England since 2013 but has been recalled following his excellent form for Sunderland.
Defoe has scored 14 league goals this season – well over half of the Black Cats’ total tally of 24.
“His goalscoring record speaks for itself, he’s a finisher,” Southgate said.
“He’s played at nearly every age group for England.
“I didn’t want age to be a barrier for someone coming in.
“Someone with his experience and goalscoring record is important for us. We can’t just look at young players.”
Southgate is without Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck who are all injured.
Marcus Rashford and Jamie Vardy are the other strikers with Theo Walcott and Andy Carroll also left out.
James Ward-Prowse has also been called up for the first time having worked with Southgate with the under-21s.
Ward-Prowse was under-21 captain and has been impressive for Southampton this term.
He is joined by Southampton team-mate Nathan Redmond and uncapped duo Michail Antonio and Michael Keane.
“They (Ward-Prowse and Redmond) are players we world with before and are in excellent form with club,” Southgate said.
“They both performance well in the EFL Cup final.
“They will likely both go to the Euro under 21s in the summer but we didn’t want to hold them back.
“They’ve performed well in the junior age groups and we’ll see how they get on.”
There is a return for Jake Livermore, Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw but no place for Jack Wilshere.
Southgate has named a 26-man squad for the games against Germany and Lithuania.
The Three Lions face the Germans next Wednesday in Dortmund in a friendly and take on Lithuania on Sunday 26 in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley.
England squad in full
Goalkeepers: Hart, Heaton, Forster
Defenders: Bertrand, Cahill, Clyne, Jones, Keane, Shaw, Smalling, Stones, Walker
Midfielders: Alli, Antonio, Barkley, Dier, Lallana, Lingard, Livermore, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Redmond, Sterling, Ward-Prowse
Fowards: Defoe, Rashford, Vardy