Jermain Defoe with Toronto FC

Toronto FC striker Jermain Defoe undergoes groin surgery, but return unclear

TORONTO – Jermain Defoe is recovering after undergoing surgery in Europe this month for a nagging groin injury, but it’s unclear when – and if – he’ll return to Toronto FC next year

The 32-year old striker suffered with hernia-like symptoms during the second half of the season, eventually missing 15 matches due to injuries and suspension in 2014. Toronto FC confirmed that Defoe travelled to the U.K. for his operation earlier in the month, and head coach Greg Vanney said this week that the team is working with their striker to get him back to full strength again.

No timetable for the recovery has been released.

“He just recently had the surgery that we all suspected was going to happen at some point,” Vanney told Sportsnet. “Our focus right now is getting him healthy, and we continue to have ongoing conversations about getting him back here, and what it would look like to get him back on our team.”

Defoe said in September that the issue had been bothering him and it might require surgery, and the injury apparently flared up again later in the season. He missed the team’s final two games of the regular season after making his final appearance of the year on Oct. 11.

“I had a scan and the first initial scan they said I had a strain in my abductor and a strain in my lower abdominal muscle,” Defoe said in September. “I carried on playing, wasn’t getting any better and it got to the point where even when I was running I could feel it and when I was shooting, it was really sore.”

Defoe scored 11 goals in 19 appearances for TFC in his first season in MLS, but he was also the subject of frequent rumors linking him to a return to Europe. Queens Park Rangers reportedly made a bid to bring him on this summer that was ultimately rejected by TFC, and QPR head coach Harry Redknapp told English media that Defoe wanted to return to England.

Defoe, for his part, said last month that the rumors were “part and parcel of playing football,” but that he’d never publicly expressed interest in leaving TFC.

I can understand fans would be frustrated,” Defoe said. “Because as a fan I think I’d be a little bit frustrated, not with the player but with the situation where potentially, maybe a player could be leaving, a player that’s not been here that long. So yeah I can understand that, but at the same time I think what people need to realize is I never once came out publicly and said I want to leave the club.”

Vanney – who said last month that he was “not really sure what to expect” when it came to Defoe’s future – said this week that he’d like to welcome his star player back in 2015.

“I’d like to have him back at the club and ready to compete and fight for the successes we are shooting for,” Vanney told Sportsnet. “But that takes a highly concentrated and motivated Jermain Defoe, and we need to make sure that’s where he’s at.”