Stoke City's Peter Crouch: I can be more than a super sub
Peter Crouch hopes he has proved he can be a regular starter for Stoke at the age of 36.
The striker has been a super-sub for the Potters this season and the club showed how highly they value him by tying him to a new one-year contract last week.
At that stage he was yet to start a Premier League game all campaign, but boss Mark Hughes named him in the team for last week's defeat by Liverpool and he kept his place for the weekend's victory over Swansea.
"I always felt I could still start games and hopefully I've proved that,'' said Crouch.
"It would be nice to have a little run now and stay in the team. That's what I wanted and signing the contract was where I wanted to be as well.
"Hopefully I've proved myself, I've run about and put myself around so I've proved having played two games in a week that I'm fit enough to do things at this level. Hopefully there's a role for me.''
Crouch was a nuisance to the Swansea defence all afternoon and created what proved to be the winner with a flick-on for Mame Diouf.
The pair started together up front, something Crouch hopes will become a more regular occurrence
He said: "I enjoyed it, I really did. It was nice to have someone like Mame reading the flick-ons and up there to help.
"Myself and him have different attributes and it can really work. Invariably I've played up front on my own and been isolated so to have a partner up there was a welcome relief.''
Stoke were boosted by the return of goalkeeper Jack Butland ahead of schedule following the broken finger he suffered on England duty.
Butland is vying with the likes of Joe Hart, Tom Heaton and Jordan Pickford to be Gareth Southgate's No. 1 for next year's World Cup.
Crouch said: "We thought he'd be out for a bit longer so it was great to have him back because he's a commanding figure.
"Jack is a top goalkeeper and he will be England's number one very soon, I'm sure.
"He's had some hard luck with injuries, but that's goalkeepers. He could break into the England side at 30 and still have 10 years.''
Asked if Butland should be No. 1 in Russia, former England international Crouch added: "I can't answer that, I'm not the England manager, but he wouldn't let anyone down if he was.''
The three points eased any immediate pressure on Stoke, lifting them up to 13th in the Premier League table, six points clear of the relegation zone.
Crouch hopes they can now push on towards the top half of the table with games against Burnley, West Ham, West Brom and Huddersfield to come after a trip to Tottenham on Saturday.
"We look to the games and they're games against teams in and around us other than Tottenham away,'' said Crouch.
"That will be difficult and we'll have to be organised and try to get a result there.
"But after that we've got games we can win and hopefully you will see us kicking on. We can take heart from this and hopefully we can go and impose ourselves at Spurs and then go on a good run and I'm sure we'll finish in the top half.''