West Ham defender Jose Fonte hopes he has the inside track on how Peter Crouch goes about his business after many tussles with the lanky frontman. And the Hammers ace will use all he has learned about the Stoke City striker when the two come up against each other in Premier League on Saturday.
Slaven Bilic’s men will look to build on a mini-revival when they clash with Mark Hughes’ side at the bet365 Stadium; and to be within chance of gleaning something from the encounter Fonte knows full well he and his team-mates will have to restrict the opportunities that fall to former England attacker Crouch.
Fonte, recruited by the Hammers from Southampton, admits that Crouch’s often ungainly style can be difficult to combat.
He said: “Crouch is an awkward one to play against because of his size, obviously it’s difficult to get the ball against him in the air, but he’s not bad with the ball on the floor as well so he’s a good player.
“He’s been around for a long time and we’ve faced each other many times, so it’s another good test, like it is every week because you always face good strikers in this league.
“It’s the toughest league in the world and another big challenge, but hopefully we can keep him quiet like we did with Romelu Lukaku (last weekend in the 0-0 draw with Everton at the London Stadium). If we do that and keep a clean sheet that would be amazing.”
Meanwhile, Fonte has been fulsome in his praise of fellow defender Havard Nordtveit, who delivered a sterling performance for the Hammers in the stalemate with the Toffees.
He added: “I’m pleased for Havard and credit to him, because he’s always been working hard in training, he’s a good lad and when he had his chance, I thought he did really well. We’re all pleased he had a good game and he had some important tackles, won lots of balls and the more games he gets, the better he’ll play.”