I’m sure some fans are delighted that Premier League football is back this weekend. For many the international breaks are an inconvenience and after recent struggles in big tournaments England matches hold less interest.
However, the last two weeks have provided plenty of drama as countries battled for a place in the World Cup. I also have to admit the England matches against Germany and Brazil have been intriguing.
Gareth Southgate may have been forced into fielding younger players but the performances of Joe Gomez and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have given encouragement.
The England manager is unlikely to include all the new young charges in Russia next year but myself, I would go for it. Throw them all in and give them vital experience ahead of the next Euros. In all likelihood though he will try and find a blend of young, hungry talent and solid, if unspectacular, older internationals.
This week on Albion Unlimited I was joined by the former Stoke and England defender Mike Pejic. Mike warned me and all Seagulls fans of the threat of someone he believes was wrongly discarded by Southgate’s predecessor Roy Hodgson, Peter Crouch.
The tall striker has already scored three times this season in the Premier League from the bench but the 36-year-old’s statistics stand up well. The 6ft 7in forward has scored 106 goals in his 438 Premier League appearances. Not bad. Throw in 56 assists as well. He has also performed well for his country in the past, scoring 22 goals in 42 games.
I don’t believe Southgate will consider him for the trip to Russia and maybe it’s right that the focus is on emerging talent but Crouch continues to make an impact domestically.
He has attracted attention for his robot celebration, his self-deprecating comments about his height and his appearances on Strictly Come Dancing supporting Abbey Clancy. They have detracted some outsiders’ view of him but it enhances my attitude towards him.
He is a talented footballer and also comes over as a genuine human being. Maybe that isn’t important in the high-octane world of football finance but I think he is someone to cherish.
Stoke fans cherish him and Mike Pejic cherishes him. Albion fans may just have to be wary of him on Monday night. If he does feature, the battle with Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk could be very interesting. Both have performed well in an organised defence but they haven’t yet come up against the striker who some refer to as ‘Crouchinho’.
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