England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson has been told he will not be diluting the class factor by including Southampton’s Peter Crouch in his World Cup squad.
Saints manager Harry Redknapp revived his ‘Crouch for England’ campaign this week after the 6ft 7in striker defied an injury-scare to score a vital goal in Saturday’s dramatic 4-3 home win over fellow Barclays Premiership strugglers Norwich.
Crouch’s 15th goal of the season – and his 12th in the last 18 appearances- prompted Redknapp to say: “I think he would be a great substitute in the squad for England.
“He would be someone you can have on the bench and offer you something different.
“You get some games where you can’t break teams down or play through them with small strikers.
“When you can bring on a guy nearly 6ft 8in it gives you an extra option in the air, of course, but Crouchie has a superb touch and great skill on the ground as well for a big man.
“It looks as though he would break in half if you tackled him, he is so thin, but he is strong and has a great technique.”
The Czech Republic have prospered in world football by playing 6ft 6in Jan Koller as the spearhead of their attack.
Crouch, 24, is still relatively inexperienced but has become a key figure in Saints’ tactical attacking plan since Marian Pahars was grounded by a long-term ankle injury and James Beattie left for Everton for £6m (€8.8m).
With Henri Camara, ultimately the match-winner, reduced to the role of substitute by a hamstring strain, Saints dreaded going into action without Crouch after he pulled out late from the previous week’s 4-1 demolition at Portsmouth with a similar problem.
And Redknapp, who sold the player to Aston Villa when he was in charge at Portsmouth, added: “Crouchie had never had a hamstring injury before, so it was up to him whether he took a gamble and played against Norwich. I’m glad he did.
“If he had torn it he would have been out for the rest of the season, so it was a hell of a gamble – but he took it for the sake of the team and it came up trumps.
“We just have to be careful there is no reaction with him for when we face Crystal Palace this weekend.
“We’ve got to score goals because we are vulnerable at the back and have a lot of work to do.”