Belfast Telegraph

Crouch keen to extend Stoke stay

Striker Peter Crouch hopes a deal can be agreed to extend his stay at Stoke past the end of the season.

The former England international is out of contract in the summer and so could now open negotiations with foreign clubs over a potentially lucrative Bosman free transfer abroad.

However, the much-travelled frontman - who joined Stoke from Tottenham in late August 2011 and has been reported to be interesting former Potters boss Tony Pulis at West Brom - would prefer to stay on at the Britannia Stadium, with manager Mark Hughes keen to retain him.

"I don't know what will happen in the future but at the moment, for the foreseeable future, I am happy playing for Stoke," said Crouch.

"My contract is up at the end of the season so I don't know what the future will hold, but at the moment I will just continue to do what I do - that is work hard and hopefully score some goals."

Crouch added: "It is nice to hear when the manager has got belief in you and hopefully I can stay here for a few more years after this."

Stoke could not unsettle Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday in the same way they had in the home Barclays Premier League game before Christmas, and were well beaten 3-0.

Crouch, though, relished his "gigantic" battle with 6ft 6in German defender Per Mertesacker.

"I have always enjoyed it, I don't want to give any defenders an easy ride and hopefully you can put yourself about to unsettle them," he said.

"I have tried to do that and always try to do."

Stoke fell behind early after sloppy defending allowed Laurent Koscielny a free header in the six-yard box, and from then on could just not contain the rampant Gunners as Alexis Sanchez struck twice either side of the break.

Crouch said: "We have to try to stop them playing, to get in about them. They have world class players so if you let them play they are going to punish you and that is what happened.

"In the game at home we did not let them play, we did not let them have any space and we played to our strengths.

"The early goal here killed us and we were not able to get back from that."

The defeat was a first in four games and Stoke are 11th ahead of the visit to Leicester.

Crouch said: "I think it has been a good season and that we can finish in the top half of the league.

"Apart from at Arsenal we have been in every game we have played. Even in the games we have lost we have given a good account of ourselves."

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