Striker proves 'different' benchmark for Eriksson

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The Independent Online

Peter Crouch's days as a derided England substitute came to an end last night. Anfield was never going to treat its centre-forward to another ambivalent welcome but in changing the course of the game against Uruguay the Liverpool striker also altered the perception of those who have questioned his international credentials for this summer's World Cup.

England were heading for a result that would have reflected their lacklustre performance against the South Americans, when Crouch replaced Wayne Rooney in the 64th minute. Eleven minutes later the substitute headed a Joe Cole cross beyond Fabian Carini and effectively secured his place in Germany before the Chelsea midfielder capped his man of the match contribution with the winning goal in injury time.

"Peter Crouch showed, once again, that he is important even when he sits on the bench," said the England manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, after his last friendly before he selects his 23-man squad for Germany on 15 May. "He was involved a lot against Argentina and scored tonight. That's Peter Crouch, he's different. Even when he came on I don't think we used him as well as we should have done. We had chances to cross and free-kicks out wide that we kept instead of putting it in directly. He is almost impossible to defend against when the delivery is right."

The downside, and there is always one, was the injury to the left-back Wayne Bridge following a collision with his goalkeeper Paul Robinson. "Our medical staff don't think it's that bad but we won't know how long he'll be out until he has had the scan," Eriksson said. "It is really bad luck. Ashley Cole was injured at the start of the week and it is typical that having lost one left-back we lose another. Let's hope they both recover."

For those other players undergoing a World Cup audition at Anfield, Darren Bent and Michael Carrick, it was a mixed night. While the Tottenham man impressed in the holding role the Charlton striker was anonymous. "Sometimes it is important to pick five strikers but it is not necessary that I decide today," Eriksson said. "I still have over two months before I pick the squad and I will see what the situation is with form and injuries then."

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