The strikers that won’t let Stoke’s season finish early
With 37 points from 31 games and a goal difference of just -9, Stoke City are no more than a point or two from safety in the Premier League. They are 12 points and seven teams between the Potters and the dreaded relegation zone. With games running out quickly for those below them, there will be plenty of sides eyeing up Mark Hughes’ squad as easy fodder as the season draws to a close.
March 26th, 2014
The Stoke City players could be forgiven for allowing their minds to drift towards the summer months and the holidays or World Cup trips that that might bring. However, the World Cup could be the very reason that Stoke remain a threat in the final number of weeks.
Their brand-new strike partnership of Peter Crouch and Peter Odemwingie have struck up quite the understanding in recent games and those experienced forwards may still harbour ambitions on being on a plane to Brazil.
Neither man is a sure thing for their national team by any stretch of the imagination. Peter Crouch hasn’t played for England since November 2010. Odemwingie’s last cap for Nigeria was in August of the same year; even though he was close to a call-up for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations before falling out with his manager.
However, if they can keep scoring goals in the Premier League they might just be the man turned to in the face of an injury crisis.
Andy Carroll and Rickie Lambert are currently Roy Hodgson’s favoured selections when he looks to ensure his England squad boasts a different type of striker to Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and/or Daniel Sturridge. However, Carroll has struggled with long-term injury and getting back to form with West Ham, and Lambert may be lacking in international experience. Crouch combines natural aerial prowess with intricate footwork that means he ranks ahead of the next contenders for a place in the squad. In the face of two injuries, Crouch may just be Hodgson’s saving grace.
And the same could be said for Peter Odemwingie. Faced with tournament-ruining injuries to two of his strikers, Stephen Keshi may elect to call-up the man that bags four or five goals in the Premier League run-in.
With the possibility of a World Cup place dangled in front of them, the two Peters won’t be giving up on this season anytime soon. That’s bad news for any defence hoping for a quiet afternoon against Stoke as the Premier League draws to a close.