PETER CROUCH is eager to put a period of frustration and uncertainty in his career firmly behind by finishing the season strongly with Stoke City . . . and hopes to play a big part at the Britannia Stadium for some time to come.
The Club's record signing is expected to lead City's attack in the live televised match against Fulham this weekend after a rare break to recharge the batteries following an early exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Manchester City.
Crouch now hopes to enjoy a productive run-in to the end of a campaign in which he was hit a nasty mouth injury in late November and was then linked with a move to Queens Park Rangers during last month's transfer window.
But the England striker, speaking for the first time since all the speculation about a possible reunion with Harry Redknapp, has made it quite clear that he is happy at the Britannia Stadium and wants to remain here in the long term.
Asked whether he could envisage spending the rest of his career with the Potters, he answered: "Yes, of course, I could.
"It's a great place to be with a good set of lads. I came here to be part of something and I really think we're building something.
"I think it's a very stable club which has been in the Premier League for some time. At 32, you want to play in the Premier League as long as you can and I feel that I have still got a good few years left in me at
"I would like to think that is at Stoke City. I am very happy here and I hope I can play a big part in us achieving more success."
Of the links with QPR and a potential reunion with Redknapp, he added: "I think there were enquiries, but the manager made it quite clear he was not prepared to let me leave and I was quite happy with that.
"QPR is obviously a club close to my heart and I have a good relationship with the manager, having worked with him a number of times in the past, but I've moved my family so often that I wanted to remain here."
Crouch is focussed now on finishing the season well, having completed the final stages of repair work on his damaged teeth.
"I feel absolutely fine now and am hoping I can have a really good end to the season," said the former Tottenham and Liverpool frontman.
"We've kicked on and improved as a Club year in, year out. We've got a chance to finish in the top ten which is something that the Club has not managed so far. It's a target we're hoping to get; that would be a