Crouch up for Carroll fight

Carroll was unable to score on what was otherwise an encouraging

debut against France at Wembley, with the 21-year-old’s performance

one of few bright spots in a dismal display overall from Fabio

Capello’s side. Another was Crouch’s immediate impact upon coming

off the substitutes’ bench, the Tottenham forward netting barely a

minute after his introduction in the 85th to set up a grandstand

finish. The goal was his 22nd in 42 internationals, maintaining a

remarkable record for the 29-year-old, who nevertheless appears to

have fallen back down the pecking order since the World Cup.

Carroll is the latest player to threaten to usurp him but Crouch

was relaxed about going head to head with the youngster. “I think

we’d probably be competing for a place to be honest,” he said.

“He’s quite similar in style maybe to me. “He’s had a great season

and long may it continue. “As long as we’ve got healthy competition

for places, that’s what we want in the England side.” Crouch has

struggled to hold down a regular place throughout his international

career and has been viewed largely as an impact substitute. He

admitted this has left him feeling he always has a point to prove.

“I’m always trying to prove points to be honest – it always seems

to be the way,” he said. “But I’ll continue to do well when given

the opportunity; I’ll continue to do what I can do.” He added of

his England record: “Obviously, I’m very proud of that. “Every time

I play for England, I feel confident, I feel like I can score and

that seems to be the case at the minute.” And despite Carroll being

a direct rival for a starting berth, Crouch was happy to applaud

the Newcastle youngster’s 73-minute contribution. “I’m very pleased

for him,” Crouch said. “Everyone has been talking about him making

his debut. “It’s very hard actually – I know being a striker myself

– to play up there on your own. “It’s difficult, especially when

France are playing so well. “But he’ll play for England for a long,

long time, I believe. “He’s a top player and he’s still young.”

Crouch believes he, Wayne Rooney, Carroll and the fit-again Jermain

Defoe could be the striking quartet to take England through to the

European Championships in 2012. “I believe there’s certainly goals

amongst the four of us,” he said. “There’ll be other competition

for places as well but, as long as we continue our form for our

clubs, then hopefully we’ll be there or thereabouts and we’ll get

goals for England.” Defoe returned to full training at Spurs on

Tuesday after more than two months out following ankle surgery.

Crouch said: “Jermain’s a top-quality player. “The last game he had

for England, he scored a hat-trick. “We all know what Jermain’s

about and I think we’ve missed him, certainly for Spurs and we’ve

missed a player of that calibre for England as well.” Wednesday

night’s defeat, which saw England without the injured Rooney,

Defoe, John Terry and Frank Lampard, capped a miserable year for

the national team. But Crouch insists there are encouraging signs

for 2011. “Obviously, we’ve been disappointed after the World Cup,”

he said. “I think there has been a reaction to that and I think it

was a disappointment last night a little bit because I thought

France played some fantastic stuff at times. “We had a young side

out there and I think we can take heart from some of the

performances. “We’ve got a bright future I think at international