Crouch leads Stoke to win vs. Swansea
STOKE, England (AP)
Stoke boss Tony Pulis felt match-winner Peter Crouch was "unplayable" at times during Saturday afternoon's 2-0 Barclays Premier League victory over Swansea - but is not about to demand the striker is given an England recall.
Crouch - who last played for his country in 2010 - scored both the Potters' goals in the clash at the Britannia Stadium to take his tally for the season to five in all competitions and earn the Staffordshire outfit their first win of the campaign.
Twice taking advantage of poor Swansea defending, the tall frontman headed home in the 12th minute and added a second nine minutes before the interval, tucking the ball away on the follow-up after Michel Vorm had parried his initial shot.
Crouch looked intent on securing his hat-trick in the second period, but headed one effort on to the bar and then missed with an attempted overhead kick before being substituted.
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While disappointed the 31-year-old had been unable to complete his treble, Pulis was full of praise for his performance - although he was keen to stress that whether or not the player might be selected for England again was a matter for Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson, who has claimed Crouch refused to be on the stand-by list for Euro 2012.
Reflecting on Stoke's display, Pulis said: "I thought in the first half we were very good.
"The worst thing that happened was half-time - we came out very slow and sloppy in the second half and Swansea controlled the play. But we got back into it in the last 20 minutes and I'm just disappointed Crouchy didn't get his hat-trick."
Explaining his decision to take Crouch off for Kenwyne Jones late on, Pulis said: "I just wanted to give Kenwyne a bit of time, and the header against the crossbar - that should be food and drink for Peter.
"The scissors kick is a different thing - I'll speak to him on Monday about that. I can't afford for him to get injured!"
He added: "I'm not reluctant (to talk about Crouch and England), but Roy has a lot of experience and the last thing I want to do is tell him what team to pick.
"It has to be up to him. I don't think Peter can do any more than score goals and play well, and you have seen him today - in the first half he was unplayable."
Having struggled in the first half, Swansea were better early on after the restart, although there was controversy in the 55th minute when their defender Ben Davies was booked for diving in the box.
"Simulation" had been a hot topic in the build-up to the game, with Pulis accusing Chelsea players of being guilty of it in Stoke's 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge last weekend and saying it was something that needed clamping down on.
Asked after Saturday's contest about the Davies incident, Swansea manager Michael Laudrup - whose side have now lost three league matches in a row - said: "From the bench it seemed like he was touched and that it was a penalty, but having seen it a couple of times more, I have more doubts.
"I don't think we have to go into arguing about whether it's a penalty or a yellow card. It can be in between - it is possible that it's not a penalty and you don't have to give a yellow card. In this case, the referee thinks Ben is trying to dive and gives him a yellow card. All I can say is that this is a 19-year-old boy and I don't think he has that in him. I don't think he tried to dive."