“If I do the business and if I play well… I’ll be trying my best, so beyond this season, who knows?”
Whether Crouch will be in the top division next season remains to be seen, but Burnley ought to be, having responded to a Christmas crisis with a six-match unbeaten league run.
They could easily have gone under against Southampton, with Barnes enduring a day of immense frustration before his penalty equaliser. The forward, booked very harshly for an alleged dive after goalkeeper Alex McCarthy brought him down inside the penalty area in the first half, berated assistant referee Adam Nunn with such fury that he risked a red card.
After Nathan Redmond’s sublime run ended with a drive to give Southampton the lead, Barnes was denied by both McCarthy and the crossbar before finally finding reward from the spot after Crouch’s header was handled by Jack Stephens.
The equaliser was perhaps harsh on the visitors, and certainly on Redmond. Having failed to score in the season’s opening four months, the Southampton forward now has six goals in 10 matches.
“Everyone can see how talented a player Nathan is,” Southampton midfielder Stuart Armstrong said. “His goal was fantastic. He’s got all the qualities you want in an attacking player.”
Crouch’s contribution helped to deny Redmond victory; the Burnley forward feels at home at Turf Moor, where he senses echoes of the dressing-room spirit built at Stoke by Tony Pulis. There is just one worry for the new arrival: the stories of training ground forfeits set by manager Sean Dyche, including one that requires errant players to lie in the freezing River Calder, which runs through Burnley’s training ground.
“I’ve heard about the river,” Crouch said. “Do you have to get into it? That’s inhumane in this weather!”