After England's 1-2 loss against Italy in their World Cup opener on Sunday, Wayne Rooney has come under ample criticism.
Some British newspapers have even called for the talismanic striker to be dropped from the starting XI for today's clash against Uruguay. However, Rooney's one-time national teammate and strike partner Peter Crouch believes that England should persist with the Manchester United striker.
"I don't agree with the opinion that Rooney should be benched today. It's not Rooney's fault that he's playing in that (left wing) position. I think he's a little bit wasted out on the left. Wayne Rooney's at his best when he's operating in front of goal," Crouch told mid-day in an exclusive interview.
'A gifted player'
"He's a naturally gifted player and if he's played in the correct position — close to goal — like he does for Manchester United, you will see the best of Wayne Rooney.
Wayne Rooney during the training session on Monday. Pic/AFP
"We have Danny Welbeck, who has the pace and we can play him down the left flank, and we can have Rooney close to Daniel Sturridge in the middle up-front," added the striker who has scored 22 goals for the national side in 42 matches.
Despite England's 2014 World Cup campaign getting off to the worst possible start after their defeat against Italy, Crouch, who played for England in two World Cups, is confident Steven Gerrard & Co can still go all the way to the final.
"I still believe England have a good chance. This (defeat) makes it simple, as we know we have to win both the games now. If we progress, then maybe we can reach the semi-finals, and if we get a good draw there, we can make it to the final," Crouch said.
In fact, the Stoke City forward felt that England were unfortunate to lose to Italy.
"Attack-wise England played very well and were the better side, so it was a little bit frustrating. But we didn't manage to stop (Andrea) Pirlo.
I thought we let him dictate play, everything was going through him and he was creating things. In the end, England just couldn't break down Italy," said Crouch, who is currently in the city as part of an expert panel for Sony Six's World Cup show 'Café Rio'.
Finally, though Crouch felt England are good enough to reach the final, he picked Germany as his best bet to win the showpiece event.
"I was surprised by the Netherlands. But I think Spain will come back stronger, they will qualify and do well in the tournament.
I love watching Brazil for their flair. But from an all round perspective, Germany are the best team in the tournament," he said.