Saturday, 20 April 2013

Peter Crouch Backed To Put Some Bite Back Into Stoke

Peter Crouch has been backed to put some bite back into Stoke’s shot-shy strike-force after the full extent of his horrific mouth injury was revealed. 

Stoke front-man Crouch has struggled for form ever since clashing heads with Newcastle’s Fabricio Coloccini on November 28.

Three teeth were replaced after the collision, which left him looking more like a heavyweight boxer than a Premier League footballer.

Now, Potters boss Tony Pulis has revealed Crouch needed surgery to his jaw as well.

Pulis reckons all the dental work affected his frontman’s game.

Whatever the cause, the former England regular has netted just once in his 18 appearances since that night, and in 26 games overall.

And Pulis admitted: “Peter had a dip in form when he had that injury to his mouth. If you go back to that, that was a major concern for him in lots of respects.

“He’s had to have surgery done within the jaw bone above his teeth, some really serious work done.

“There’s been a while, especially after his injury, where Peter’s not performed to the level he was at before, because he had a good start to the season and looked a real handful.

“Hopefully, fingers crossed, he’ll be back to what he was in the next five games.”

Pulis nearly sold Crouch back to QPR, where he played for one season as a youngster a decade ago, in January with the deal only falling down because he was unable to land Swansea front-man Michu as his replacement.

Now, months after nearly flogging him, the under-pressure Potters chief is backing the striker to add to Rangers' relegation woes in Saturday's meeting at Loftus Road while easing his own.
“When I was a player, I always enjoyed going back to a former club, it always gave me an edge,” he said. 

“Sometimes it works in your favour, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m hoping and praying he gives a top performance.”

To say the nerves are jangling at Stoke is an understatement.

Some supporters believe the Potters are going down and want Pulis sacked.

The Welshman insists it is just a minority calling for his head and has issued what he terms a ‘call to arms’ to the fans to stick together for the remaining five matches.

Pulis has never been relegated in his managerial career, and going down this year would cost the club their slice of the huge £5billion TV bounty that will pile into the Premier League next season.

He tried to deflect that by saying the match that kept them in the Championship, against Reading in 2002, was far more important, as he does not know where Stoke would be had they lost that.

But chairman Peter Coates must be staring nervously at the accounts - click here for Robbie Savage's view of the Potters' predicament.

Pulis, though, says he has not even detected a hint of panic whenever he has spoken to the owner or any of the board and will call on all his experience to guide them through.

He added: “Peter’s been very supportive. He’s probably been more concerned about how I feel than anything else.

“We know the score, we know the pressure the club’s under to get the results but it’s about handling that pressure.

“I’ve been in difficult situations before and there’s stuff in you that will keep you going. The most important thing is getting it over to the players.

“They will be the most important people over the next five matches.”

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