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 level."