BLACKBURN boss Mark Hughes fears his team could feel the wrath of Peter Crouch when they take on Liverpool at Anfield tomorrow.

The gangly striker was cruelly jeered by England supporters when he replaced Shaun Wright-Phillips during the second half of Wednesday night's World Cup qualifier with Poland.

Some fans clearly believe the 6ft 7in forward is not good enough to play for the national team and they made their feelings known in the harshest possible way at Old Trafford.

But Hughes has leapt to the defence of Rafa Benitez's £7 million signing, even though he admits his style is not to everybody's liking.

"Peter's the kind of player who possibly divides opinion," said Hughes, who heads to Anfield looking for a third straight win in the Premiership.

"Some people like the way he plays and others don't, but I'm of the view he's a very effective player.

"He's got to a really high level with his football at the moment and he's an international, so he hasn't got anything to prove to anyone as far as I'm concerned."

Hughes became a member of Crouch's fan club after seeing the way he performed for Southampton during the second half of last season, when a run of 13 goals in 19 appearances almost saved the Saints from relegation and led to a place in the England squad.

That was enough to persuade Benitez to snap him up for Liverpool during the summer but, despite some encouraging performances for the Reds, he has yet to score in eight appearances for his new club, a statistic his critics are all too quick to point to.

However, Hughes believes one goal is all it could take to silence some of those doubters, as a similar thing happened with Shefki Kuqi recently when he opened his goals account for Blackburn with a brace in the 2-0 win against West Brom.

"I, personally, think Peter has done okay for Liverpool when he's played for them this season," said Hughes.

"I'm sure he'd love to score a goal and get up and running just like Shefki did last week.

"Then, once he does score, I'm sure he'll settle down a bit. I just hope he doesn't do it against us."

Liverpool certainly need Crouch to find his shooting boots because a chronic lack of goals has hampered their start to the season.

The European champions have mustered just four goals in their opening six league games and a defeat tomorrow would constitute their worst ever start to a Premiership campaign.

On top of that, the recent 4-1 loss to Chelsea was the Reds' heaviest home defeat in 36 years and even more poignantly that result left them a whopping 17 points off the title pace.

If ever there was a good time to visit Anfield then perhaps it is now, particularly as the Reds are also without their talismanic skipper Steven Gerrard, who picked up an injury whilst away with the England squad.

Nevertheless, Hughes is too shrewd an operator to be lulled into a false sense of security and he expects to be confronted by a wounded animal tomorrow.

"They won't have enjoyed conceding four on their own patch last time out but they will view this as an opportunity to bounce straight back and we'll have to be conscious of that," reasoned the Blackburn boss.

"They will probably view their start to the season as slow.

"They've not been quite as prolific on the goalscoring front as they possibly would have hoped, but it's still very early days in the league yet, we're only seven or eight games in, and people are still finding their feet."