Fri, Oct 06, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Crouch confident of combining with Rooney for England in Euro 2008 qualifying matches

AP , MANCHESTER, ENGLAND

England striker Peter Crouch, left, warms up next to teammate Scott Parker as the team train at Carrington near Manchester on Wednesday before their forthcoming Euro 2008 qualifying soccer match against Macedonia tomorrow.

PHOTO: AP

England forwards Peter Crouch and Wayne Rooney have played together only once.

Neither scored.

Four months after that 2-2 draw against Sweden in the first round of the World Cup, the pair will get more chances when England plays Macedonia at Old Trafford tomorrow and then visits Croatia four days later in European Championship qualifying.

"We can complement each other well," Crouch said on Wednesday. "Wayne likes to drop off deep and that gives opportunities get myself in the box. I think it can work well."

Crouch has scored 11 goals in his last 10 international matches, but only one came at the World Cup. Rooney, who hasn't scored for his country in 11 months, has 11 goals in 33 international appearances.

Rooney missed England's last two Euro 2008 qualifiers because of the red card he got in the World Cup quarter-finals. He hasn't scored in a competitive international match since the quarter-finals of the 2004 European Championship, just before he broke his foot in the penalty shootout loss to host Portugal.

The Manchester United striker also sat out the team's friendly against Greece.

"Wayne's a top, top talent ... in a couple of games, he hasn't been the best player on the pitch," Crouch said. "Given the opportunity, he'll prove a few people wrong on Saturday."

Crouch, however, has scored five goals in England's last three matches and four this season for Liverpool.

Also, England coach Steve McClaren called up Darren Bent to cover for injured striker Andrew Johnson, the Premier League's leading scorer. Jermain Defoe is the team's other forward.

McClaren also left out David Beckham from a midfield depleted by injuries to Owen Hargreaves and Aaron Lennon. Instead, he called up Scott Parker for the first time in two years.

Central defender Ledley King returned from injury to replace Spurs teammate Michael Dawson.

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