Crouch content with England role

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The Independent Online

Peter Crouch is ready to let his goals do the talking as he bids to win a World Cup place - because no player would dare confront Fabio Capello about team selection.

Tottenham striker Crouch has put his case forward with 16 goals despite making just 17 England starts, although he knows Capello's preferred shape in attack is Emile Heskey being supported by Wayne Rooney.

On the one hand Heskey provides space for Rooney and Steven Gerrard to exploit, while on the other Crouch provides more of a potent threat, and his last six starts have yielded the same number of goals as Heskey's entire international career - seven.

Crouch admits he is just happy being part of 'plan B' and cannot complain as Capello's disciplined regime has led to qualifying for the World Cup in emphatic style.

"If we were losing games I could go and speak to the manager. But I'm not going to be the first one to argue with him!" Crouch said. "I will leave him to it, he picks the team and the team has done fantastically well.

"I want to be playing all the time for England, it's a dream to play at Wembley and wear the number nine shirt, but when called upon I will continue to do what I have done.

"Emile's situation is one of those things and the manager picks the best team he sees fit. I can't argue too much because the record in qualifying has been very good.

"The team has done fantastically well and Emile has played the majority of those games. I will do as well as I can - a couple of goals against Belarus have hopefully helped."

This week's game against Belarus, when Crouch scored twice, was Capello's chance to look at alternative tactics should the Rooney-Heskey axis be broken up.

The competition for supporting roles is hotting up, with Jermain Defoe missing with a hand injury, Carlton Cole and Gabriel Agbonlahor playing their part in setting up goals for Crouch at Wembley, and Darren Bent in goalscoring form. Michael Owen will want a say in the selection process too.

"I would prefer to be plan A than plan B," Crouch said. "The manager has to continue to pick his team and I just have to give him something to think about, which is what I've done.

"I feel confident, I've never let anyone down. Whenever I've come in I've scored goals and played well."

Crouch will be hoping for a decent run in the Spurs team leading up to South Africa. Robbie Keane and Defoe have been Harry Redknapp's first-choice pairing so far this season, with four of Crouch's five strikes coming in the Carling Cup.

"Maybe I'm not starting every game at Tottenham, but I'm at a top, top club and with the squad we've got we can really compete and do well," Crouch said.

"The manager [Redknapp] has brought me in and he's going to play me. I know I will get a good share of games and I think we'll be doing well in the league."

Next for Crouch is a trip back to Portsmouth, the club he left in the summer.

Crouch, Redknapp, Defoe and Niko Kranjcar will be returning to their former club, who have faced financial uncertainty in the last few weeks.

"It will be a tasty game and a hot atmosphere," Crouch said. "There are quite a few of us going back - it's like Portsmouth old boys."

Pompey fans could be hostile towards Redknapp, but Crouch said: "Harry did fantastically well for Portsmouth, he was probably the best manager in their history. He won the FA Cup and took the club into Europe. It's understandable the fans are angry he left them and joined another club, but that's football.

"Portsmouth got a great deal of money from Tottenham for Harry and all the players that left. They have spent it wisely and I hope they stay up."

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