The England striker Peter Crouch was grateful for the chance to show he can be part of Fabio Capello's "Plan B" but admitted he still harbours hopes of making it into "Plan A". Crouch scored twice in Wednesday's 3-0 victory over Belarus to take his international goal tally to 18, alongside the illustrious likes of Roger Hunt, Johnny Haynes and Dixie Dean.
Yet it doesn't seem to matter what the lanky Tottenham striker does, Capello does not seem convinced. Rather like Rafael Benitez when Crouch was at Liverpool, the manager picks him reluctantly and then cannot bring himself to praise him afterwards when he has dug his side out of a hole.
Crouch however remains stoic, hoping against hope he can yet convince the manager to pick him ahead of the seemingly undroppable Emile Heskey. Capello believes Heskey's ability to bring out the best in Wayne Rooney puts him ahead of Crouch in the strikers' pecking order. But Crouch still believes there is a chance he can change Capello's mind in the eight months leading up to the World Cup.
"I would prefer to be 'Plan A' than 'Plan B'. 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. It was nice to get a couple of goals and the win. When you get a chance you've just got to go out there and take it. Hopefully, I've given the manager something to think about," Crouch said.
"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. But when I'm called upon I'll do as well as I can – a couple of goals have hopefully helped.
"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 the manager. I will leave him to it, he picks the team and the team has done fantastically well."
Under Capello England won nine of their 10 qualifying games. Frank Lampard admitted the manager has done a remarkable job, as confidence could not have been lower after England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008.
Lampard said: "Our confidence was rock bottom from not qualifying. For England not to qualify for a major tournament, I know it's happened quite a few times over the years, but it is a low point. We're a top nation with top players and we should be qualifying.
"We were on the floor almost and we picked ourselves up, credit to the manager and to all the players as well, and we turned it around and qualified in style. The manager's brought a real discipline and real organisation to our way of playing on and off the pitch. And looking back it was what was needed."Reuse content