Spurs star: I can top the charts

England's Peter Crouch
England's Peter Crouch
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Peter Crouch has set his sights on becoming one of England’s leading goalscorers even though he remains a bit-part player for his country.

Crouch has scored 22 goals in 42 appearances for the Three Lions including 17 in 19 starts.

He remains on the fringe of Fabio Capello’s plans and admits he will be in competition with Andy Carroll for a place in Saturday’s Euro 2012 qualifier with Wales in Cardiff.

But the 30-year-old believes he has the time to move into the top five England goalscorers with Nat Lofthouse, Tom Finney and Alan Shearer all on the 30 mark in joint fifth place at present.

Crouch said: “I’m not going to lie, I’ve had one eye on those England goalscoring stats.

“It would be an amazing achievement (to get into the top five). I think I’m on 22 goals.

“I’ve seen that Nat Lofthouse is on 30 and in the top five. It’s not a million miles away from where I am - and why not?

“I feel fit and I feel healthy and, touch wood, I’ve not had many injuries in my career and can go on for quite a while yet.”

Crouch is adamant his desire to play for England still burns bright despite his own knockbacks.

He said: “Right from when I started my England career, I think I’ve always felt I’ve done well and given a good account of myself. I’ve felt I’ve never let anyone down.

“I’ve been part of the set-up for five or six years now and not missed many squads, so I must be doing something right!

“I don’t bear grudges if someone comes in and does well but I know whenever I’ve played I’ve done well, and if given the opportunity in future, I know I’ll do so again.”

Crouch added: “It’s never crossed my mind not to continue. I think it’s an honour every time you get called up.

“I still get a buzz every time you receive the text to let you know you are in the squad and that’s never going to change.”

Crouch is optimistic his performances for Tottenham in the Champions League this season may aid his England chances.

He said: “In the Champions League, you are playing against the best players in the world, the best teams in the world.

“You are always in the England manager’s eye I suppose - especially playing against Milan, one of his old teams.

“Hopefully playing in the Champions League will help my cause for England.”

Crouch is aware of the need for England to stop the threat of his Spurs team-mate Gareth Bale in the Millennium Stadium clash.

But he believes he still has some way to go to match Capello’s claim that he is the best player in the world.

He said: “Gareth has been top class for last two years, been right up the with the best in the league. He can only get better.

“But he’s got some way to go to be Lionel Messi’s standard. He sets the bar extremely high.

“Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are out there on their own at the moment, with the sheer number of goals they’ve scored.

“Wales’ biggest threat is Gareth Bale. We only assess opponents on Thursday and Friday, look at videos and I’m sure Gareth will be prominent in a lot of those videos.”

Crouch also has nothing but praise for Wales forward Craig Bellamy, whom he played alongside at Liverpool.

He said: “Craig is a good lad. He gets a lot of stick but he only wants to win.

“When you see him from afar, you see him shouting at refs and shouting at anyone who will listen.

“But the only reason he’s like that is he wants to win.

“I remember when he was at Liverpool him shouting and screaming at me during one training session.

“Afterwards I pulled him and said ‘what’s that about?’ and he said ‘I forgot’.

“He doesn’t know he does it, he just says ‘that’s the way I play and I have to shout to get myself geed up for a game’ and that’s fully understandable.

“All the talk will be about Gareth Bale but Bellamy is certainly a player we have to watch out for.”