Peter Crouch made no secret of his emotions after his omission from the England squad for the recent games against Moldova and Ukraine.
And he reminded Roy Hodgson exactly what he is missing out on by scoring the opener in Stoke’s well earned draw against Manchester City at the Brittania Stadium on Saturday.
It has surfaced in the past couple of days that Crouch had refused to play in England’s pre Euro 2012 friendlies against Belgium and Norway because he had been informed that he wouldn’t be needed for the tournament itself. Crouch said, “He (Hodgson) wanted me to play in one of the friendlies and then go home. I’ll be honest. I was bitterly disappointed not to be in the squad for the Euros, and I think understandably so.”
If this is true, then Crouch can certainly claim that he has been unfairly treated and was correct not to play in those friendlies, Roy Hodgson shouldn’t be using this as ammunition to punish Crouch. I’m not claiming that he should be a guaranteed starter for England, far from it. But to not include him in the squad at all makes little logical sense to me.
When England were 1-0 down against Ukraine and struggling to find a route back into the match, Crouch would have been the perfect player to bring off the bench to provide England with an alternative tactic.
But ultimately, England looked short of options up front, just like they did at Euro 2012, and scrambled to a scarcely deserved 1-1 draw. With the absence of both Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll through injury, a gap emerged in the England set up that many expected Crouch to fill. But Hodgson hasn’t included the Stoke striker whatsoever in any of his games in charge of England, and Crouch continued to be overlooked. The question that has to be asked is why?
His goal scoring record for England is undeniably good. 22 goals in 42 games is a fantastic return at international level. Admittedly, a proportion of these goals have come in meaningless friendlies and against vastly inferior opposition, but Crouch’s ratio is still better than that of any other current England striker.
If it’s goals you want, Crouch is usually the man to deliver them for England. If selection should be based on current form, again Crouch ticks all the right boxes. His “basketball” goal against Manchester City was his third in as many games,underlining what a good start to the season he has made. Peter Crouch isn’t as one dimensional as many often think.
He offers more to England than simply flicking on long balls and opportunities from set pieces. He is equally able with his feet, and has a great first touch and eye for a pass, something that can’t be underestimated at any level, let alone international.
All this makes his exclusion all the more bizarre. As I said earlier, Crouch shouldn’t be a nailed on starter, but Roy Hodgson needs to start using the resources at his disposal a little more wisely, and that includes ending Peter Crouch’s exile and bringing him back into the picture.