Sven-Goran Eriksson says Peter Crouch has a chance to prove he can be England’s secret weapon.
Sven-Goran Eriksson says Peter Crouch has a chance to prove he can be England’s secret weapon after picking him for the first time.
The Southampton striker, 24, is in line for his England debut after being named in the Three Lions squad to play two matches in a mini-tour of the United States.
Former England Under-21 star Crouch, who is 6ft 7in tall, has never been involved in an England senior squad before but now has a chance to force his way into the World Cup reckoning.
Sven said: "He's different, very different. When you go into a big tournament, you should have one big striker.
"If you put the ball up there, he will win it. His touch is not bad at all and if you are trying everything in the last 15 minutes as you can't break them, then maybe you could put on Peter Crouch. I'm not saying that I will definitely do it but I will look at him in America."
Crouch, who has scored 16 goals this season, stands a good chance of playing at least one match in America as England take on the United States on 28 May in Chicago and Colombia in New York on 31 May. And Eriksson believes the tour will be invaluable for some of his players.
He said: "To let a player like Peter Crouch, Andy Johnson or Shaun Wright-Phillips go out of Europe and play against good teams like the United States, it must be good experience for them.
"It will be interesting and we can still finish our season before most of the other countries as they have qualifying games in June The players are also looking forward to it very much."
England will be without several key players in America, including Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, John Terry and Frank Lampard. But the Three Lions Head Coach has a rare chance to try out new options, and says Shaun Wright-Phillips is one of those who will benefit most.
The Manchester City star is a strong contender to start on the right with Captain David Beckham not arriving in America until the second match due to Real Madrid’s league schedule.
"I think Shaun is very happy to come," said Sven. "In the first game, he knows that Beckham is not there and that's good for him. If you ask me about first-team alternatives in the future then Shaun Wright-Phillips is, for sure, one of them."
Crystal Palace striker Andy Johnson, the top English goalscorer in the Premiership this season, is also a player with a big chance to impress.
Sven said: "Andy Johnson I'm going to look at again, and maybe let him play up there. I will not play him on the right wing this time!
"And Michael Carrick deserves a chance. He has improved since he went to Tottenham, just like Jermain Defoe. But to be fair to Carrick, when I first came here and he was playing for West Ham, he did very well. I picked him twice and I liked him very much. Then he got injured and then West Ham went down."
The goalkeeping situation could be an interesting one because first-choice Paul Robinson is injured and that gives Manchester City’s David James a chance to win back his place.
Eriksson said; "In the first game, David James will play. He deserves that. He's been extremely professional. Never has he said one word after being left out. He has reacted fantastically.
"Can he win his place back? Well, he has had rather a good season, hasn't he? You never know."
Robinson's absence also means there is a chance for either Norwich City's Robert Green or Liverpool's Scott Carson to earn a first cap.
In defence, Sol Campbell should relish the chance to prove once more that he is one of the best centre-backs in the world after suffering a frustrating season because of injuries.
He played a full 90 minutes for Arsenal against Everton on Wednesday, however, and looks certain to play some part in the United States for England.
Sven said: "Sol is very keen to come on this trip. If we should have qualification games in two weeks time, I wouldn't have picked him as I have no idea how fit or ready he is. But this tour will be good for him.
"Can he force his way back? Of course he can. He's 30 and at the last World Cup, he was the best centre-back.
"We are very lucky in that department because John Terry is knocking very hard on the door as well. He won’t be with us this time but I have Gary Neville, Sol and Ashley Cole. That's not a bad defence. And Wes Brown will be coming too."
It all adds up to an exciting summer for England - and hopefully an even more exciting summer in one year’s time in Germany. No wonder Sven is so confident of his team’s potential.
He said: "The last two games we played, I said that I had never had such a strong squad before. Not only the quality of the players but they think they can beat anyone.
"They are strong mentally and they feel better and better. Their confidence is growing."