Crouch calls on Pompey to 'fight and scrap' to stay up

England striker says relegation-threatened side must show battling quality
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The Independent Football

Peter Crouch has called on his Portsmouth team-mates to turn around their recent run of poor form as he battles to end a drought in front of goal. Crouch has not scored for nine games and has often been asked to play a lone role in attack as Pompey have become embroiled in a fight for their top-flight future.

The 28-year-old has not hit the back of the net in the Premier League since December's 2-1 defeat at Bolton. Meanwhile, Pompey have dropped down the table. They are now just two points away from the relegation places but Crouch remains in a positive mood.

He is confident Portsmouth have the quality to avoid the drop and is looking ahead to retaining his England place for the forthcoming friendly against Slovakia and the World Cup qualifier against Ukraine.

Although he is struggling to rediscover his touch in front of goal, Crouch insists there have been mitigating circumstances. "Recently it has been difficult because you have to sacrifice yourself for the team," said Crouch. "I have to defend well, I have to get back into shape and basically cut out the goals we have been conceding."

Crouch had another difficult evening against Chelsea's England captain John Terry as Portsmouth went down to a Didier Drogba goal at Fratton Park on Tuesday night.

Portsmouth squandered a number of chances but Crouch insists that they must stop waiting for their luck to turn and get back into a winning habit as soon as possible.

The club are hoping the appointment of Paul Hart as manager until the end of the season will help them to keep their top-flight status. Hart and assistant Brian Kidd have already began to rebuild confidence after the sacking of Tony Adams.

"It was difficult against Chelsea and we were unlucky," added Crouch. "We keep saying that but we have got to make sure we get ourselves back to winning ways, and with the new management team we've got in place hopefully we can do that. I feel we can push on and have a good end to the season.

"If we didn't believe we can stay up, what's the point of being there? We have got a good squad but we are in a position now where we have to fight and scrap. That is something that I certainly believe we can do and hopefully with the quality of our squad, we have got enough ability to see us through."

Despite the problems at Portsmouth, Crouch is looking forward to helping England's qualification for the 2010 World Cup finals. England lost their last friendly 2-0 to Spain last month but the striker believes they can step up to their previous form in the remaining qualifiers.

"Obviously we were disappointed with the way things went in the Spain game but generally things have gone well under the new manager," Crouch said. "We've been pleased and we are top of the group after winning all our games. Hopefully we can continue that."

Crouch was speaking after training children at a National Lottery-funded elite youth event at the Osmani Youth Centre in Tower Hamlets. Crouch added: "It's fantastic for kids to come to a place like this. It helps keep them off the streets or getting into mischief. It only takes one afternoon out of my life to come down and try to give some advice."