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05 Oct 2006 09:13
Peter Crouch can look back on 2006 having scored more goals in a calendar year than any England striker before him, but the Liverpool forward admits that he still has his doubters ahead of Saturday’s Euro 2008 qualifier against Macedonia in Manchester.
Crouch has hit 11 goals in ten games for England this year and, with Michael Owen’s long-term knee injury and Wayne Rooney’s injury and suspension problems, he has become a key figure in Steve McClaren’s starting line-up.
The 6ft 7ins giant also netted the winner in the 1-0 win against Macedonia in Skopje last month, but despite winning over the boo-boys that targeted him early in his England career, Crouch believes that he has yet to convince everybody of his worth on the international stage.
“Maybe sometimes I do feel as though I need to do a little bit more than the others, but that’s something I have to live with,” said Crouch.
“As long as I’m doing well and scoring goals I don’t think people can criticise. I look at my manager with England and my manager at Liverpool and my teammates and they all seem to be happy with how I am doing at the moment.
“So all I can do for everybody else is keep going in the same manner.
Everyone I meet in the streets is complimentary to me, though, so I seem to be turning a few people around.
“Everyone wants to be a popular player, you’d rather be that than not.
“It’s been a roller-coaster at times but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Ever since I made my debut for England I’ve enjoyed being part of the set up and I’d like to think I’ve done well and I want to keep that going.”
Crouch is set to partner Manchester United striker Rooney up-front against the Macedonians. Rooney will make his first appearance since the World Cup having served a two-match ban for his red card against Portugal in the quarterfinals and his place in the starting line-up is not in doubt.
And having made great strides on the international scene since his debut against Colombia in May 2005, Crouch admits he is determined to acquire similar ‘first-team regular’ status.
“If you are injured and you go straight back in the team, that shows the manager has a great belief in you,” he added.
“That’s what happens with Wayne, everyone knows he is a top player. Every player hopes for that and I hope it’s the same for me.
“We all know what a top player Wayne is, and we have to remember how young he is as well. At that age, I had dips in form, if you can call it that, and he’ll certainly be back from it.” - Sapa-AFP
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