Peter Crouch has had to play a supporting role at Tottenham so far this season, but on the back of this display that is all about to change. His impressive impact as a substitute has surely left manager Harry Redknapp with no option but to start him against Manchester United in their first game after the international break.
After 49 minutes Crouch replaced Modric, who has a broken leg and is out for six weeks, and he could have scored a hat-trick. His height caused incredible trouble for Birmingham, and after hitting the crossbar and having another effort cleared off the line, he scored his first home goal for Spurs.
It was Aaron Lennon who won the game deep into injury time, after Lee Bowyer had pulled the visitors level, but this was Crouch's day and he is hopeful he will now be given an opportunity to show he can score regularly.
"I'm confident I'm going to play a big part in Tottenham's future," he said. "The manager's said we've got a lot of options up front and if something's not working then I can bring something different. But I still prefer to start games, and hopefully I've given the manager something to think about."
This victory means Spurs have won all four games so far and are joined with Chelsea on 12 points at the summit of the table. However, Crouch is cautious about how high the club should set expectations.
"It'd be a surprise if anyone breaks in to the top four," he admitted. "They've been so consistent over the past five or six years. But if anyone can do it, we can."
Crouch's goal came on 72 minutes as he headed home a free-kick from Tom Huddlestone, and manager Harry Redknapp believes that his towering forward can become just as important for England as for Tottenham.
"I love Crouchy, that's why I keep buying him," Redknapp said. "How do you stop him? That's why England need Crouch, because he's Plan B for them too in my opinion.
"He's a player that you'd take to the World Cup because he gives you something completely different. When the game needs changing he can come on and do that. He's been fantastic. One or two lads would have sat with faces like thunder and moped around but he doesn't. He can become Plan A easily – look at that performance. It's going to be hard to keep him out of the team, especially when you play Man United and Chelsea, you need something different at times to cause problems." Birmingham were given a route back into this game on 75 minutes when a mix-up between Alan Hutton and Carlo Cudicini allowed Bowyer to level.
The visitors could have gone on to win too, but missed two chances and then Stephen Carr was punished for losing possession deep into injury time as Lennon struck the winner.
"There were strong words in the dressing room afterwards," admitted City's Lee Carsley. "I think it's important we learn from these mistakes.
"I wasn't here last time they were relegated but I imagine they had a few days like this when they conceded in the last minute. Sometimes you have got to be happy with a point. In hindsight we should have settled for that."
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Cudicini; Corluka, King (Hutton, h-t), Bassong, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Palacios, Huddlestone, Modric (Crouch, 49); Keane, Defoe (Pavlyuchenko 79). Substitutes not used: Button (gk), Bentley, Naughton, Giovani.
Birmingham City (4-5-1): Hart; Parnaby, R Johnson, Queudrue, Carr; Larsson (McSheffrey, 90), Ferguson, Carsley (Benitez, 73), Bowyer, McFadden; O'Connor. Substitutes not used: Maik Taylor 9gk), Phillips, Espinoza, O'Shea.
Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).
Booked: Tottenham Hotspur Hutton, Huddlestone; Birmingham City Carr, O'Connor.
Man of the match: Crouch.
Modric feels 'world has crumbled' after broken leg
*The Spurs midfielder Luka Modric will be out for at least six weeks after breaking a bone in his right fibula in Saturday's 2-1 win over Birmingham. The 23-year-old Croatian midfielder, who has been in inspired form as the Lilywhites have won their opening four league matches this season, was hurt in what seemed an innocuous collision with Lee Bowyer at the start of the second half. He said yesterday: "It's like my whole world has crumbled because I will be out for at least six weeks. I am terribly sad. It wasn't a ferocious tackle but it hurt awfully and I knew something was wrong the moment it happened. The worst feeling is knowing that I will be watching both my club and country from the sidelines for a while."
Modric will miss Croatia's World Cup qualifiers at home to Belarus on 5 September and away to England four days later and at least five Spurs league matches.Reuse content