Does Crouch have an outside shout of England recall for World Cup?
Stoke City turned their Midlands derby around at Aston Villa in no small part down to Peter Crouch, and his contribution there has resulted in Potters boss Mark Hughes pressing his claims for an England recall.
Beanpole frontman Crouch, who last represented the Three Lions under Fabio Capello way back in November 2010, is a 50/1 shot with Coral to come in from the cold and be on Roy Hodgson’s World Cup roster for Brazil.
Crouch, now 33, first knocked down for Peter Odemwingie before scoring himself to turn a Premier League game on its head in the space of five first half minutes. He had a similar impact during five years with England from 2005, breaking into the XI on the eve of the 2006 World Cup.
An international record of 22 goals in 42 caps looks impressive but, looking beyond this fact on paper, there is the quality of opposition Crouch scored against to consider.
Hitting a hat-trick, despite a penalty miss, when a lowly Jamaica team provided the opposition before jetting out to the World Cup finals in Germany eight years ago remains his finest hour.
It is easy to be condescending about Crouch. Scoring seven and making six assists in 28 Premier League appearances is hardly a prolific strike rate (one in four). He was good for getting three in qualifying for both Euro 2008 and the last World Cup.
Those, and a strike against Trinidad and Tobago in the group stage in Germany, apart, Crouch’s other 14 international goals all came in friendlies. He did notably score a consolation for the Three Lions on his last cap against France at Wembley.
Hughes maintains Crouch is “an international-class player”, however. “He gives you a focal point and his link-up play is excellent,” he added.
“Maybe people in charge now are looking in different areas and are looking for a similar type of player, a player who’s as effective as Peter Crouch, but maybe they think his time has come and gone.”
And that does indeed seem to be Hodgson’s attitude. Crouch has never been called up since he succeeded Capello in 2012, and there are five forwards – all members of the last England squad – that have netted more Premier League goals this term.
Of those, Southampton’s Rickie Lambert (7/4 to make the final World Cup roster) is in a similar battering ram, target-man mould. The other four – Danny Welbeck (1/6), Daniel Sturridge (1/25), Wayne Rooney (1/50) and Jay Rodriguez (6/4) – look locks to be included too on versatility grounds.
That quintet are all into double figures in all competitions. So, based on the premise that Hodgson will reward the most prolific attackers with places on the plane, only an end of season purple patch could see Crouch possibly play his way into contention.
Punters would be better off risking a bigger stake on Lambert at 7/4.