Brooking blasts stay-away stars

Tottenham striker Peter Crouch is said to have decided he will not

play for his country again until Fabio Capello is replaced as

manager after growing increasingly disillusioned with life under

the Italian. Blackburn goalkeeper Paul Robinson and Manchester

United defender Wes Brown retired at the start of this season,

while Birmingham keeper Ben Foster is currently on a “sabbatical”

to concentrate on his club career. As the Football Association’s

director of football development, Brooking would be expected to

talk up the notion of playing for England. However, it is in his

status as a former international who won 47 England caps that he

reacted on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme. “No matter what

people think about individuals, it is about playing for your

country,” he said. “You turn up regardless. I would have turned up

if I was number 23 in the squad. “We had one or two issues with age

group teams. There appears to be a reluctance with one or two

youngsters to get that tournament experience. “I come from a

generation where I couldn’t even contemplate such a thing. I find

it amazing. “There are great rewards out there. You can become a

multi-millionaire as a club player without playing international

football. “But international football is about individual pride and

wanting to perform at the highest level. “If I got picked at 41, I

would have played, even if I thought I would make a fool of myself.

I just wanted to play for my country.” Brooking is reluctant to

write Crouch off just yet and wants to wait for the full facts to

emerge before believing the Tottenham forward no longer wishes to

make himself available for selection. However, the 30-year-old has

never been viewed as one of Capello’s preferred strikers. Crouch

has started just five games during Capello’s 37-match reign and did

not make the bench on Saturday even though England had been reduced

to just three fit strikers. Yet he has also been one of the Three

Lions’ most reliable goalscorers, netting eight times during

Capello’s regime – part of an overall tally of 22, placing him

joint 16th on the all-time England list. He has proved to be a

popular figure in the dressing room too and went to last summer’s

World Cup, although he was limited to two brief substitute

appearances. With Liverpool frontman Andy Carroll and Manchester

United’s Wayne Rooney both likely to be available for the August

friendly with Holland, it seemed Crouch was about to get squeezed

out anyway. However, if his international “break” is confirmed, it

would raise further question marks about Capello’s handling of

players, as well as reducing options in an area of the field

England are not particularly well blessed anyway, given Kevin

Davies and Jay Bothroyd were both capped earlier this season.