England striker Peter Crouch has the ultimate aim this season of getting into the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ squad after helping Tottenham reach the UEFA Champions League.
Crouch's side are currently in the top four of the Premier League and his own form has led to Fabio Capello using the 28-year-old recently when Emile Heskey has not been available. The Spurs striker has four goals in his last three England starts - he has 16 from 17 starts overall - to put him in contention for a place in the squad to travel to South Africa. He hopes to be playing in the top European club competition next season as well.
"That would be the ideal situation," said Crouch, who is looking for another chance to impress Capello during the friendly against Brazil on Saturday. "We've got a tough task to get into the top four at club level. With England, of course it's going to be tough. We've got a long road and these friendlies will test us. The ultimate goal is to do as well as we can at the World Cup."
The path to a top four place appears to have been made easier by Liverpool's slump in form, the irony being they are short of strikers after selling Crouch to Portsmouth at the start of last season. Crouch would probably fit into the Liverpool team at the moment, but he added: "None of the top four teams of recent years will give up that Champions League (place) easily.
We're certainly as close as we've ever been to the top four, but there's certainly going to be a lot of hard work to get anywhere near it,
"They expect to be there every year. Spurs haven't been there ever. We're dying to get in there. We're certainly as close as we've ever been to the top four, but there's certainly going to be a lot of hard work to get anywhere near it."
Success at club level this season included a night of celebration in London after beating Pompey, which resulted in pictures being published of Crouch and other team-mates. With a celebrity girlfriend in Abby Clancy, Crouch is aware he needs to keep a low profile, particularly in FIFA World Cup year and the fact Capello has a reputation of being a strict disciplinarian.
"You've got to be wary of that," he said. "We all want to keep our heads down and do as well as we can. There are times when you can't. We're all human at the end of the day, but it's difficult keeping your head down at 6ft 7in."
Crouch trained with his England team-mates at Arsenal's London Colney complex ahead of the trip to Qatar to face Brazil, although Glen Johnson underwent a separate recovery session after featuring in Liverpool's draw against Birmingham on Monday evening. "After training out in that cold we're all looking forward to getting out there," Crouch said.
Pompey goalkeeper David James is missing through injury so Robert Green may be given his seventh start in the last eight England games. From Capello's first-choice players, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon and Emile Heskey are among those missing, but Crouch feels the friendly will be a chance to test England's strength. "If you want to have any aspiration of winning the World Cup you have to play against teams like Brazil and hopefully this will help us," he said.
Crouch also feels he can cement a squad place with a good performance against Dunga's side, particularly if he gets on the scoresheet and adds to impressive goalscoring record. Overall, he has 18 goals from 35 caps. "If you can score and win against Brazil the manager will believe you can do it in a big tournament," he said.
"Brazil are one of the top five teams in the world so to put in a good performance will be fantastic for your aspirations of making the side for the World Cup."