Old boys can ruin Rafa's day

PETER Crouch and Robbie Keane have only been together for a week, but there s a good chance they ve found time to have a good old moan about Rafael Benitez. Both strikers are used to being in demand...

By Ben Pearce

PETER Crouch and Robbie Keane have only been together for a week, but there's a good chance they've found time to have a good old moan about Rafael Benitez.

Both strikers are used to being in demand, and the pair have racked up more than �100million in transfer fees between them, but they also know how it feels to be unwanted at Anfield.

It is incredible to muse that, last August, Liverpool had just signed Keane as a replacement for Crouch, who they had sold to Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth to partner Jermain Defoe.

Crouch scored 40 goals in three seasons under Benitez but was clearly out of favour during the 2007/08 campaign, Fernando Torres' first season in England.

And, although Crouch has less venomous memories of Benitez than Keane, the lanky striker admits the Spaniard's infamous rotation policy forced him out of the club.

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"That was frustrating, when I was at Liverpool and I'd be doing well and score a couple - or even a hat-trick I remember - and then not play the next week," Crouch told Ham&High Sport.

"But I think everyone knows that the manager there likes to change the team regardless of form, and that's just one of those things I had to accept. I moved on from there because of that really."

Ironically, Liverpool arrive at White Hart Lane on Sunday with just one top-class striker, Torres, who could still miss the game with an ankle injury.

Plenty of Reds fans would happily see Keane or Crouch on the teamsheet but, while Crouch has a chance to prove a point at the weekend, he isn't motivated by revenge.

"Obviously I'd love to win on Sunday against Liverpool and certainly score, but more so for Tottenham and for myself," he said. "I hope we do fantastically well and beat them, but I've still got a great deal of affection for the club there, and I hope they go on to win the league if they can.

"I've got a lot of friends there and a lot of admiration for the club. Barring Sunday I hope they go on and have a great season."

Despite his excellent international record of 15 goals in 32 appearances for England, Crouch was overlooked by Fabio Capello for this week's Three Lions friendly squad.

But the forward believes his move from Portsmouth to Tottenham gives him a better chance of impressing Capello and securing his seat on the plane for this summer's World Cup.

"I think it's a big thing when you're playing for such a big club," he said. "At Liverpool certainly we were playing in massive high-profile games - we were playing in the Champions League and challenging for trophies and the league title.

"I think that definitely helps and when you're playing with good players it brings out the best in you as well, and that's another reason why you're more likely to catch the manager's eye.

"I could have maybe taken an easier option and made sure that I was playing every week, but I'm ambitious and I'm confident that I can do well here, play games and catch the eye of the England manager.

"I believe I've come to a top club and that we can achieve anything here. The top four are the top four, and Man City will have a very good go, but I believe that if anyone can do it we can.