JERMAIN Defoe has urged England boss Gareth Southgate to ensure Lewis ‘Maestro’ Cook is given a seat on the plane to the World Cup.

Southgate is tomorrow set to name his 23-man squad for the finals in Russia and Defoe is convinced his Cherries team-mate should be included.

Defoe has likened Cook to Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric and believes his experience of captaining England to Under-20 World Cup glory would help him handle the pressure.

The Three Lions host Nigeria and Costa Rica in friendlies at the start of next month before facing Tunisia, Panama and Belgium in Group G in Russia.

And while Defoe knows his own chances of featuring in a second World Cup are slim, the striker hopes rising star Cook will be given an opportunity to fly the flag for Cherries.

Defoe, who was restricted to 11 starts in the Premier League during an injury-interrupted first season with Cherries, came off the bench to set up Callum Wilson’s late winner at Burnley on Sunday.

Cook, a £7million buy from Leeds two years ago, is in contention to be selected after winning his first senior cap during a friendly against Italy in March.

He is understood to have been included in a provisional 35-man squad already submitted to FIFA, prompting Eddie Howe to leave him out of the Cherries team at Turf Moor.

Defoe, who has netted 20 goals and won 57 caps for his country, told the Daily Echo: “I think it’s just a matter of time before he gets in the team.

“His potential is unbelievable and, since I have been here, he is someone who has really impressed me. I call him Maestro because he reminds me of Modric.

“It’s the little things in his game like how he receives the ball. He is so comfortable on the ball and receives it in all different areas of the pitch. He is brave, very good technically and works hard.”

Asked whether he would pick Cook if he were the England manager, Defoe replied: “I would, yes.

“Without being biased, he showed he could deal with it in the Under-20 World Cup tournament when he was captain.

“Even though it wasn’t at senior level, there is still a lot of pressure and that experience will be invaluable.

“It could be under-18, 19 or 21s, once you represent your country at any level in a tournament and do well and win, that is great experience.

“Lewis has that and is a young and hungry player. He stays on the ball and can manipulate it. He has so much potential.

“There is always that one surprise in a World Cup squad and, if it was me, I would take him because he is a top player.”

Cook, who made 29 appearances in the Premier League this season, became the first serving Cherries player to earn an England senior cap when he came on as a 71st-minute substitute in the 1-1 draw with Italy at Wembley in March.

A late penalty by Lorenzo Insigne denied him a winning debut after Jamie Vardy's opportunist first-half strike had put the Three Lions on course for victory.