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Peter Crouch - why he should and should not lead England's attack at the World Cup

04 Mar 2010 14:43:09

Peter Crouch - why he should and should not lead England's attack at the World Cup

Love him or loathe him, Peter Crouch's goalscoring record for England cannot be argued with. His double against Egypt last night took his tally to 20 in 37 appearances for his country - half of which have been as substitute - a ratio bettered by very few Three Lions strikers. Even legends like Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Alan Shearer, Kevin Keegan and Bobby Charlton cannot match Crouch's goals per game strike rate and he is now the sixth best in English history. Hooray, I've scored against Andorra and Egypt - Peter Crouch celebrates But still opinion is divided about the 6ft 7in Tottenham striker. He certainly made things happen against Egypt, effectively beat Trindad & Tobago at the last World Cup, scored a hat-trick (resulting in THAT robotic dance) against Jamaica and has three goals to his name against Andorra. Four teams that will not be at this year's World Cup, three of whom would probably not even win the Coca Cola Championship, one of whom would struggle even in the Scottish Premier League. So is Crouch the perfect foil for Wayne Rooney or is he a fraud, a flat-track bully, happy to fill onion bags against part-timers but always found wanting against an opponent who doesn't combine football with firefighting or stacking shelves? Sportsmail delivers its verdict... YES, PICK CROUCHHis goals alone merit selection. The fact that it looks like comedy actor and producer Stephen Merchant has donned a kit three sizes too short for a sketch when he takes to the pitch is irrelevant. Like all good books, not to be judged by the cover. Crouch ensured England of qualification from the group stage of the last World Cup with his late goal against Trinidad & Tobago, netted the winner against Macedonia in a Euro 2008 qualifier and brought England level at 2-2 during that infamous 3-2 defeat at home Croatia in November 2007. It's there: Peter Crouch scores against T & T at the 2006 World Cup He also opened the scoring against Ukraine in the 2010 qualifier at Wembley and bagged a brace against Belarus. The fact is, international defenders neither like him nor know how to deal with him. Now that's funny: Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch have just been reminded of Emile Heskey's goalscoring record for England Referees were instructed at the last World Cup to penalise him more because he wins so many headers - odd given his height - but his presence on the pitch fills his own defenders with confidence. Against Egypt left-back Leighton Baines looked happier with Crouch to aim for as did right-back Wes Brown. Neither could see Jermain Defoe and did not want to be spraying passes for Wayne Rooney to chase all night. It could be argued that Emile Heskey is another target man worthy of a place. As solid as the big Aston Villa man is, he does not offer goals. His return of seven in 57 caps is matched by central defender John Terry with six from 58 and nobody is suggesting pushing JT into attack. Defoe has 11 goals from 38 England games but does not always have the full confidence of managers. He was wrongly axed for 12-year-old Theo Walcott in 2006 and would not even have been a bad bet for a place at the 2002 finals as a teenager. Yes, he scored twice against Holland (friendly) and has six competitive goals under his belt but four of these have been against Andorra and another against Kazakhstan. Crouch's goal record for EnglandDate                       Opponents           Final score           Status                   Goals scored March 2006Uruguay (H)2-1Friendly1May 2006Hungary (H)3-1Friendly1June 2006Jamaica (H)6-0Friendly3June 2006Trinidad & T2-0WC (Germany)1August 2006Greece (H)4-0Friendly2Sept 2006Andorra (H)5-0E2008Q2Sept 2006Macedonia (A)1-0E2008Q1June 2007Estonia (A)3-0E2008Q1November 2007Austria (A)1-0Friendly1November 2007Croatia (H)2-3E2008Q1April 2009Ukraine (H)2-1WC2010Q1June 2009Andorra (H)6-0WC2010Q1October 2009Belarus (H)3-0WC2010Q2March 2010Egypt (H)3-1Friendly2England manager Fabio Capello already seems to have written off Michael Owen, Darren Bent has not scored for England in five games and looks out of his depth outside the Premier League and Carlton Cole, for all his big physical presence, has no goals in seven England outings. If Capello favours the big man/little man combo, that would almost certainly rule out Walcott as a striker as well, and that leaves England turning to the likes of goal-a-game David Nugent, no caps Bobby Zamora, did-you-spill-my-pint Kevin Davies, no-goals-in-eight Andrew Johnson and no-goals-in-three Gabriel Agbonlahor. So the facts and figures prove conclusively that Peter Crouch is the man for the job and that Rooney must stop playing now and sit in cotton wool until June. NO, PICK ANYONE BUT CROUCH                                                     Fabio Capello knows a thing or two about football and really seems to like Emile Heskey. The 6ft 2in good old- fashioned centre forward is a clever footballer who has brought the best out of natural goalscorers Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen. Far stronger than Crouch, Heskey holds the ball up well and is better in the air. But most importantly, England players like Heskey because he is a 100 per cent team man, unselfish to the core, happy to do all the hard work and preparation but bask in none of the glory. Target men: Emile Heskey and Carlton Cole (top row) will provide the muscle while Gabriel Agbonlahor and Bobby Zamora the pace and guile Surely worth a place just for his turntable celebration following his goal in THAT 5-1 win in Munich eight years ago, living proof you don't have to be prolific to be a great striker. Capello clearly believes Rooney needs something totally different to him up front, something hefty and easily found. Step forward Carlton Cole, excellent this season for a struggling West Ham side, a 6ft 3in wall of muscle and pace whose only Achilles is his injury record. Top England strikers (20 goals or more scored)Player                    Goals                    Caps                      Goals/game         Games/goal Tom Lawton22230.961Stan Mortensen23250.921.1Nat Lofthouse30330.91.1Jimmy Greaves44570.81.3Gary Lineker48800.61.6Peter Crouch20370.51.8Geoff Hurst24490.492Alan Shearer30630.472.1Bobby Charlton491060.462.1Mick Channon21460.462.2Michael Owen40890.452.2Wayne Rooney25570.442.3David Platt27620.432.3Pre-World War I: John Woodward 29 goals, 23 caps,  Steve Bloomer 28 goals, 23 caps Cole has seven caps to his name but has yet to score a goal - not important if he is setting up Rooney or has Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard netting from midfield - and not important if all your caps have been awarded by the man set to name the World Cup squad. And just try knocking him off the ball... Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agonlahor averages a goal every three games at club level and is one of the main reasons Villa are still challenging on two fronts this season. The 23-year-old is blessed with prodigious pace and is used to winning - he is also outscoring all his rivals for the No 2 slot with 14 goals this season, Heskey (5), Crouch (10) and Cole (9) trailing in his wake. On the (too) short list: Theo Walcott, Michael Owen and Jermain Defoe Yes, no real experience, yes no goals but yes, he's gotta start somewhere and he's bigger than Owen and Defoe. With 15 goals this season, Fulham's Bobby Zamora is above them all, and has earned rave reviews - plus a viewing from Capello - as the West Londoners have made the last 16 of the Europa League. Also seems to have become a dead ball specialist so would keep Stevie G, Lampard and David Beckham on their toes as well. The fact is Crouch only seems to score against poor sides and only in England - just four of his goals have been overseas - Heskey is stronger, Cole is tougher, Agbonlahor is quicker - so there's a queue forming and the 6ft 7in man is being muscled out of it.  Crouch at the double but has he done enough to be a World Cup starter?England 3 Egypt 1: Crouch stakes his claim, but Capello still has problemsThey're united but America are in no state to hurt Fabio Capello's England John Terry would be a dead man if he played away with a team-mate's girl in Argentina, says Carlos TevezRevealed: Andy Cole confesses real reason behind hatred for SheringhamJuventus want Arsenal star Robin van Persie in exchange for Brazil hard man Felipe Melo  Explore more:People:Geoff Hurst, Carlton Cole, Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen, Theo Walcott, Emile Heskey, Kevin Davies, Bobby Zamora, Jimmy Greaves, Peter Crouch, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Wayne Rooney, Kevin Keegan, Fabio Capello, Jermain Defoe, David Beckham, WES BROWN, Darren Bent, John Terry, David Nugent, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Frank Lampard, David Platt, Andrew JohnsonPlaces:Munich, Jamaica, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Kazakhstan, Andorra, Austria, Croatia, Egypt, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, MacedoniaOrganisations:Scottish Premier League


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