Crouch remains in Rooney's shadow

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> After 11 goals in 10 England performances and an acrobatic strike for Liverpool in the Champions League, Peter Crouch should have everything going for him.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:36 IST
  • Total Shares


After 11 goals in 10 England performances and an acrobatic strike for Liverpool in the Champions League, Peter Crouch should have everything going for him. He even had his stolen Aston Martin returned. Yet even Crouch's next Euro 2008 qualifying appearance for England is overshadowed by the return of Wayne Rooney. Rooney is due to start up front with Crouch in Saturday's qualifier against Macedonia for the first time since the Manchester United striker was sent off in the World Cup against Portugal. While Crouch is scoring goals for his club and country, Rooney can't find the net for either, and that is why the United player is attracting the headlines even though England, without him, has won three shutout games in a row. "We all know what a top player Wayne is, and we have to remember how young he is as well," Crouch said of his 20-year-old co-striker. "At that age, I had dips in form, if you can call it that, and he'll certainly be back from it." Despite his goal-scoring prowess for Liverpool and England, Crouch's own natural abilities are persistently under intense scrutiny. Even a double against Galatasaray wasn't enough to convince Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez of a starting place in Saturday's defeat at Bolton - a tactical decision the six-feet-seven striker reluctantly accepts. "I feel I can play every game and want to but that's not always the case (for Liverpool)," says Crouch, who will win his 15th cap at Old Trafford. "I've been starting regularly for England and I've been enjoying it." The lanky striker hopes that renewing his creative partnership with Rooney will strengthen his position in the England starting lineup, especially with Michael Owen sidelined for most of the season after a knee injury he picked up at the World Cup. Despite Rooney struggles in the Premiership, Crouch believes he has the class to outwit Macedonia and rediscover the net. "He's a top player. He can drop off and with me playing up there I like to keep it high and keep length in the game and allow Wayne to drop deep," Crouch said. "I think that will work well. I've played with (Dutch striker) Dirk Kuyt a couple of times lately at Liverpool and he plays in the same way. I think that's the best way for Wayne to play. "He's a player who likes to drift and wants the ball all the time, whereas I can hold a high line and get in the box and get on the end of things." Jermain Defoe, who scored twice in the 5-0 Group E victory over Andorra a month ago, is expected to lose his starting place to Rooney. "Obviously, he'll be frustrated if he misses out on Saturday," Crouch said. "But he showed great attitude after being left out of the World Cup and he's come back in and proven that when given his chance he can take it." Crouch, meanwhile, has been reunited with his beloved Aston Martin which was stolen in a burglary at his Cheshire home. The property was ransacked last Wednesday on the night Crouch scored twice for Liverpool in the European Champions League. "It wasn't pleasant to find out about it. I'd been on a massive high after scoring two goals against Galatasaray and I came home and realised my car wasn't there," Crouch said. "It's not the nicest thing to come home to. I didn't lose any medals and, other than the car, it wasn't too bad." (AP)