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Crouch has high hopes of keeping Heskey on bench

PORTSMOUTH&rsquo;S Peter Crouch insists he is optimistic about keeping his place in the England starting line-up, following rival Emile Heskey&rsquo;s return to fitness.<br /><br />Crouch marked his start against Ukraine in April with a goal but faces a battle for selection against Kazakhstan on Saturday now that Heskey, a favourite of head coach Fabio Capello, is back in contention.<br /><br />&ldquo;It was important for me to get a game, play well and I scored so hopefully I have given the manager something to think about,&rdquo; said Crouch.<br /><br />&ldquo;I felt I did well enough in the last game to warrant a start. Emile is back from injury and he was first choice beforehand but hopefully I&rsquo;ve given the manager some food for thought.&rdquo;<br /><br />England fly to Kazakhstan tomorrow for the World Cup qualifier in Almaty, and Crouch admits it is a step into the unknown.<br /><br />&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t say I have ever been to Kazakhstan on holiday,&rdquo; he added. &ldquo;None of the lads have played against teams from there so it&rsquo;s exciting. I don&rsquo;t know what the pitch is like, or the conditions.&rdquo;<br /><br />Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand and Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole both missed training yesterday with minor injuries. However, the move is thought to be a precaution and neither is expected to miss the game against Kazakhstan or the visit of Andorra next week.