Belfast Telegraph

Peter Crouch backs misfiring Saido Berahino to come good at Stoke

Peter Crouch knows exactly what Saido Berahino is going through and has assured his Stoke team-mate his goal drought will eventually come to an end.

Potters striker Berahino has not scored in the 32 games he has played since February 2016 and missed his fourth successive penalty in that period when Fraser Forster saved his attempt in Stoke's 2-1 win over Southampton on Saturday.

It was Crouch, brought on for Berahino, who struck the winner five minutes from time but he had sympathy for the man he replaced given his struggles in front of goal.

Crouch was in that very position at the start of his Liverpool career in 2005 and it took him until December to open his account for the Reds having gone over 24 hours of football without scoring for club and country.

He went on to net seven times that month but his drought is one Berahino can relate to, even down to the penalty Crouch had saved during his fruitless run.

"I've actually spoken to him," Crouch told BBC Sport.

"I've been there myself at Liverpool. I took the ball off Steven Gerrard once (for a penalty against Portsmouth) and missed as well when I was going through a little barren spell.

"I speak from experience. He will come through it. He works hard in training, he's always doing finishing. It's just not going for him at the moment but he's a good player and he'll come through it I'm sure."

Crouch, 36, proved he is more than just a mentor for his younger colleagues by coming off the bench to net a crucial winner for a Potters side that had been without a win in five games.

He was lauded by manager Mark Hughes after the game, with the Welshman hinting another new contract could be in the offing for Crouch, though the player has reiterated he wants to be more than just a bit-part player having not started a top-flight game yet this term.

"I'm still knocking on the door, I still want to be playing," Crouch added. "I train every single day. Of course I want to be starting games.

"I'm realistic, I'm at the age now where I maybe have to play on the bench a little bit more than I like. When given the opportunities I try and make an impact but I still want to be starting games."

His old club Southampton are finding goals almost as hard to come by as Berahino.

They have scored just seven times in their last 14 games in all competitions and they came away from Staffordshire empty-handed despite having had 70 per cent possession.

"There were similarities here with the (Manchester) United game in the way that we controlled possession," defender Maya Yoshida, who scored his team's goal, told southamptonfc.com.

"That said, we know that we need to improve going forward and we conceded two goals so there is work to be done at the back as well.

"Looking just at myself, my job is to help keep things tight at the other end. It is a shame that my goal didn't lead to a win."

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