sport

Crouch: Pressure off Rooney

Peter Crouch believes the inclusion of talented youngsters in England's World Cup squad will take some of the pressure off Wayne Rooney.

Manchester United striker Rooney has shouldered the expectations of a nation at four major tournaments, but is yet to illuminate an international event.

That could be about to change, with national coach Roy Hodgson looking to spread the workload.

The likes of Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkely, Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be expected to step up in Brazil, and that can only benefit Rooney.

Stoke City forward Crouch, who played at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, said: "They won't have respect for people and will just go out there and do what they know they can do. It will certainly benefit us and Wayne.

"The last two World Cups have all been about if Rooney stays fit then we are going to win it. The pressure was ridiculous on him.

"But now we have other players in the squad.

"I can't even remember Rooney being mentioned too much in the lead up to this World Cup.

"I think taking a bit of pressure off him and letting him enjoy his football can only be a good thing."

Crouch added: "What is good about the squad at the minute is there are a lot of young players and it is a bit different.

"Hopefully they'll go into the tournament with less fear and the lack of experience can help the players. I genuinely do believe that. They will go out there and continue what they have been doing this season.

"Sturridge and Sterling seem to be playing with so much freedom at Liverpool and if they can take that into the World Cup with other players like Barkley and Adam Lallana - really exciting players - then I'll be excited to see them on the world stage."