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By ESPN Staff

Crouch backs Defoe partnership for England

Peter Crouch is confident his successful partnership with Jermain Defoe at Portsmouth can thrive with England if the pair are chosen for the World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Belarus.

The duo have struck up a good understanding on the south coast since Crouch made the summer move from Liverpool to Fratton Park.

Now Crouch has been rewarded by being recalled to the international fold by Fabio Capello after not being chosen for the previous two squads.

The Pompey pair face stiff competition from Emile Heskey and Wayne Rooney for a place in the starting line-up but Crouch has faith that he and Defoe would hit it off if needed by Capello.

Crouch said: ''I think it helps that we play together at club level. If we spend any time on the pitch with England, we will slip straight into how we play at Portsmouth.

''I certainly think it helps. We haven't talked about playing for England together but it is an option and it will be of benefit that we play alongside each other week in and week out.

''We clicked together straight away. We play to each other's strengths. We set each other up and play very well as a combination.

''In fairness, I've played with Jermain right from the England Under-21s. The fact we played together will help internationally as well but we have certain other strikers in the squad who want to play as well.''

Crouch is relishing playing on a regular basis under Harry Redknapp after becoming frustrated at his lack of first team opportunities with Liverpool - particularly in the Barclays Premier League.

He said: ''I am really enjoying it. I said when I was at Liverpool that I wasn't playing as many games as I would have liked. I had to move on and at Portsmouth I am loving every minute of it.

''We are playing in Europe, I've played almost every minute and I've also been scoring goals recently.

''I've been pleased with my goal record for England and at club level as well. I always felt, given a run of games, that I was confident enough to get back in with England.

''I could have stayed at Liverpool, maybe played in the odd game here and there but I wanted to move on. I had faith in my ability and, if I played every week, I could show I was worthy to be in the England set-up.''

England are on the crest of a wave after demolishing Croatia 4-1 in Zagreb last month but Crouch insisted England's preparation will also be spot-on for the minnows of Kazakhstan.

He said: ''We have played teams we are expected to beat before and we will prepare just the same as any other game.

''We had a team meeting on Tuesday evening. It is the early part of the week but we are looking at things we can exploit, their weaker areas. We will prepare just as any other game.

''Mr Capello's preparation is very similar to the manager at Liverpool (Rafael Benitez) - in training and in terms of attention to detail. He won't leave anything to chance.''

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