Salisbury JournalHughes backs Crouch for England (From Salisbury Journal)

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Hughes backs Crouch for England

Salisbury Journal: Peter Crouch caused Aston Villa's defenders plenty of problems at Villa Park Peter Crouch caused Aston Villa's defenders plenty of problems at Villa Park

Mark Hughes thinks Peter Crouch could easily transfer his Stoke form onto the international stage if Roy Hodgson decides to call on the striker for the World Cup.

Crouch was one of many Stoke players to star in Sunday's 4-1 victory at Aston Villa.

The 6ft 7in frontman set Peter Odemwingie up for Stoke's first goal and also got himself on the scoresheet as Stoke claimed their first away win since August.

Crouch has scored 22 goals in 42 England appearances, but he has been overlooked ever since Hodgson became coach of the national side.

Hughes acknowledges that Crouch is very much an outsider for Hodgson's 23-man squad for the tournament, but the Stoke boss has no doubt that the 33-year-old would impress in Brazil if called upon.

"He has given us a focal point, and his link up play was brilliant today," the Stoke manager said of Crouch, who has nine goals to his name this term.

"He is an international-class player, he has proven that at international level.

"He has a great record for England. Maybe the people in charge are looking for a similar type of player as effective as Pete.

"Maybe his time has come and gone, but if he was asked to go I am sure he would go.

"If anyone rang me up and wanted a view on whether or not I think Peter should go to the World Cup, I can obviously give them a very positive one."

Stoke went behind to an early Christian Benteke goal, but Odemwingie and Crouch scored within four minutes of each other before Steven Nzonzi and Geoff Cameron wrapped up the win.

Hughes' men never looked like surrendering the lead, thanks partly to the shocking defending of the home team in all four goals.

Still, Stoke deserved credit for the way they opened up a team that eight days ago beat Chelsea at Villa Park.

The third goal was the most impressive. Stoke strung a series of passes together before Marko Arnautovic released the ball to Nzonzi who slotted past Brad Guzan.

Hughes feels such goals will go a long way to banishing the idea that Stoke are a long-ball team.

"For the third goal, there was something like 18 or 19 passes before the ball was in the back of the net and we are not too renowned for passages of play like that," the Welshman said.

"I hope (the long-ball tag) is something in the past now because we deserve a bit more credit. We do try and get it down on the floor and keep possession.

"Maybe people will sit up and take notice of what we are trying to do.

"We have been under the radar a little bit in the last seven or eight games but today was a statement from us in terms of what we want to do this season.

"We are just happy that people are noticing there is a little bit of a change in style. At the moment it's working and it's for the better."

Villa boss Paul Lambert hit out at his players for a performance which in no way resembled the one they put on against the Barclays Premier League leaders last weekend.

"The whole performance was unlike us," the Scot said,

"We looked lethargic. We never got going and you try and get a goal back and it just never materialised."

Lambert was not helped when he had to bring Karim El Ahmadi and Andreas Weimann off in the first half due to injury.

"Andy had a severe dead leg that he couldn't shake off," Lambert said.

"We will have to see how he is. Karim has a little thigh strain."

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