LONDON, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Peter Crouch has not given up hope of playing for England again after the imposing forward came off the bench to score the winner in Stoke City’s 2-1 Premier League victory against Southampton on Saturday.
Crouch has not played for England since 2010 but, even at 36, has not given up hope of adding to his impressive record of 22 England goals in 42 international appearances.
With incumbents Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford all in fine form at the start of the season and expected to lead the remainder of England’s World Cup qualifying campaign, Crouch’s opportunities may be limited.
However he is Stoke’s leading scorer this season with three goals in all competitions and could take heart from Jermain Defoe’s recent return to the international fold.
“I have not actually retired from international football so hopefully I have made an impact (for a call-up),” Crouch told the BBC after his 85th-minute winner against his former club.
“I am still knocking on the door, I still feel fit and I want to start games, but I am realistic. “I am very pleased to get the goal and it was backs to the wall at the end. Very nice to come off the bench and get the winner.”
Crouch has yet to start in the Premier League this season but has made a significant impact from the substitutes’ bench with his dominant and unsettling presence.
“Peter Crouch wants to play more games and wants more starts but as a sub coming on he gives the opposition something more to deal with,” Stoke manager Mark Hughes told the BBC.
“He has a huge role here and has come up trumps for us late in the day.”
The man Crouch replaced, Saido Berahino, missed a first-half penalty and has now gone 30 Premier League games without scoring a goal.
The 24-year-old scored 20 goals in 45 games for West Bromwich Albion during the 2014-15 season but has struggled since arriving at Stoke for 12 million pounds ($14.85 million) in January.
“It is a shame for Saido Berahino, I thought he did okay. He showed personality to grab the ball and unfortunately the keeper batted the penalty away,” Hughes added.
“He will always be judged on goals. He is working hard, he is in good physical condition but his time will come.” (Reporting By Tom Hayward; Editing by Clare Fallon)