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Hughton talks up Crouch's quality ahead of Brighton's game with Burnley

Hughton talks up Crouch's quality ahead of Brighton's game with Burnley
© Reuters
Crouch was coached by Hughton at Tottenham.

Brighton boss Chris Hughton believes Peter Crouch is "a brilliant ambassador" for English football as he prepares to be reunited with the veteran striker.

Former England international Crouch progressed to the professional game under the guidance of Hughton when the pair worked together at Tottenham in the mid-to-late 1990s.

The much-travelled 38-year-old looked to have bid farewell to his lengthy stay in the Premier League when he was relegated with Stoke last season.

But a deadline-day transfer to Burnley marked a fresh chapter in his career and he will be keen to prove his worth in the top flight when he comes up against former youth-team coach Hughton at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

"He's a player I knew very well in my years as a coach at Tottenham and him being a young player coming through my group," said Hughton.

"On a personal note I'm delighted to see him playing at the top level for as long as possible.

"He's a good lad and you can't play until that age unless you are dedicated to what you do.

"I think he's very good for our game, I think he's a brilliant ambassador for our game.

"It will be nice to see him, hopefully he doesn't play too well against us."

Crouch failed to make a single first-team appearance during his initial spell at White Hart Lane, before dropping into the Football League to learn his trade with QPR and Portsmouth.

He returned to the top-flight with Aston Villa in 2002 and, aside from a short loan stint with Norwich, remained in the top division for a further 16 years, playing for Southampton, Liverpool, Pompey, Spurs and Stoke.

At international level, he scored 22 goals in 42 England appearances and played at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.

Hughton recalls a brief loan move to Swedish club IFK Hassleholm in 2000 alongside fellow Spurs youngster Alton Thelwell being a significant spell in Crouch's development.

"We sent him on loan to Sweden with one other lad and that was almost the turnaround for him. Before that – although he was always tall – he wasn't so dominant in the air," added Hughton.

"He's a player that's perhaps not going to play the minutes that he would have done a few years ago, but he's a player that also can be very, very effective."

After securing Europa League qualification through an unlikely seventh-placed finish last term, Sean Dyche's Clarets have endured a difficult campaign and are involved in a relegation battle.

The Lancashire club sit two points and a place above the drop zone ahead of their trip to the south coast, with Albion only three points better off following a five-match winless run.

"I'm expecting a tight game," said Hughton.

"The levels of the two teams have been relatively similar over the last couple of seasons, they of course had an outstanding season last season and testament to them.

"I think most people felt after a difficult start with the Europa cup, a lot of games, that they really just needed to get into a settled pattern.

"And I think with no Europa cup games now, it's allowed them to do that."

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Chris Hughton in charge of Brighton & Hove Albion on January 26, 2019
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