Crouch happy to pledge future to Liverpool

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The Liverpool striker Peter Crouch has sought to dismiss recent transfer speculation by pledging his long-term future to the club.

Crouch insists he has no intention of seeking a big-money move away unless the Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, wants him to leave. The 25-year-old ended a run of recent poor form by scoring a stunning opener in the New Year's Day victory over Bolton.

Crouch said: "I have heard all the speculation and all I can say is I am happy here and love playing for the club. It is a fantastic club, all the games are massive and I wouldn't want to leave. I see my future here and, as long as the manager doesn't want me to go, I won't be going."

Newcastle were linked with a £12m January swoop for Crouch, with the England striker believed to have become frustrated with Benitez's controversial squad rotation system.

But despite showing obvious displeasure upon being substituted during the recent defeat at Blackburn, Crouch claimed that was not the case and insists he is happy to give others their chance.

"I have had challenges throughout my career and this is another one," he said. "There are a lot of players who get rotated and I am not the only one. When you get a chance, you've got to take it. Hopefully, I've given the manager something to think about.

"We all need to impress, not just those who are in and out. It can get frustrating when you want to play every game and do your best for the club, but all you can do is keep working hard. I know the manager has got no problem with me. Everyone who knows me knows my attitude won't change. I've always worked hard and given my all, and that's always going to be the case."

Benitez said he accepted that Crouch was not a natural goalscorer but he remained confident the England striker would continue to improve under his guidance at Anfield. Benitez has stressed his desire to keep the 25-year-old and the overhead kick - his second such strike of the season - which broke the deadlock in the 3-0 win over Bolton on Monday will have done much for the manager's and player's confidence.

But the close-range header Crouch directed straight at the Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen from six yards in the closing moments was an indicator of how infuriating the big striker, who could have had a hat-trick, can be. It was that sort of profligacy which led to criticism of Crouch after the 1-0 Boxing Day defeat to Blackburn - Liverpool's only dropped points of the festive programme.

Benitez admits Crouch will not always get it right, but believes he will get better. "The three goals were fantastic," said the Spaniard after the win that lifted the Reds to third in the Premiership. "The first one for Crouch was really nice. It was important for him and also the team. Afterwards the team was creating more chances so it was a key goal."

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