Peter Crouch has urged fans not to make Aston Villa goalkeeper Scott Carson the scapegoat for England's Euro 2008 exit.
Carson, on loan from Liverpool, was given his competitive debut for his country in the crunch qualifier with Croatia at Wembley and his error gifted Niko Kranjcar the opening goal in his side's 3-2 win.
That ended England's hopes of qualifying for next summer's finals in Austria and Switzerland and Carson was sarcastically cheered every time he touched the ball after that howler. But Crouch, himself the victim of the England boo boys when first breaking into the side, has seen at first hand Carson's abilities with club and country and has no doubt he can recover from this setback.
The 26-year-old former Villa striker said: "Scott is a fantastic keeper and also a young keeper and, although he will be disappointed with Wednesday, I've trained and played with him every day and I know just how good he is.
"I am sure he will be an England number one in a few years to come.
"Hopefully people don't get on his back too much. I wouldn't wish fans turning on him. He is a great lad and a fantastic keeper.
"It wasn't just him. Over the course of the qualifying campaign, there have been mistakes and we have to look at ourselves as a team as a whole."
Crouch, one of the few players to emerge with much credit against Croatia, insists it was not a risk by Steve McClaren to replace Paul Robinson with Carson for what proved to be his final match as England head coach.
He said: "I wouldn't say it was a risk to play him. Like I said, I've trained with him, I've seen how good he is and he is a fantastic keeper. He has made mistakes but he is young."
David Beckham, public enemy No 1 with fans for a spell after his sending-off in the 1998 World Cup against Argentina, echoed Crouch's sentiments.
He said: "Scott is a young keeper, a talented keeper, one of the most talented young keepers we've got in this country, and he proves that week in and week out.
"Wednesday was difficult. It was a difficult match. You can't just pick one player out. I've had it in the past myself and you do get things thrown at you but it's how you react."
Crouch is preparing for an inquest into why England failed to make the most of a second chance to qualify after Russia's weekend slip-up against Israel.
He said: "It's a huge disappointment not to qualify. It was a hugely disappointed dressing-room afterwards. We have to pick ourselves up but it hasn't sunk in just yet.
"The only thing we can take heart from is the second half and the fact we showed character in getting back to 2-2. But there was a final sting in the tail.
"When we got back to 2-2, you could tell by my reaction to scoring that I thought we had done enough. I was hoping we'd go on and win the game then but it wasn't to be.
"We should have seen the game out. We've been in situations before."
Crouch added: "Have England not been good enough in this campaign? You'd have to say so if only because of the fact that we haven't qualified and that is the biggest disappointment.
"Once we get Wednesday out of the system I think we can look at where we went wrong in the other games as well but at the moment what happened Wednesday feels the most painful."
Beckham, meanwhile, has vowed to continue playing for England and insisted the players are "hurting deeply" .
The "devastated" former England captain rejects claims from supporters that the players don't care enough about playing for their country.
Beckham said: "Without a doubt there will be a backlash. It is about how we deal with it. If you are going to play and perform at this level, then you've got to take the good with the bad.
"We've had it good at times and I've known the bad times but it is all about coming back from that. When things go bad, the amount of money players earn always gets thrown at them. Of course it does.
"When people are seeing the amount of money in football, and the amount players earn, people want results and we've not got the results and not qualified.
"Do the England players want success enough? Without a doubt. Everyone of those players in the dressing-room have all played in big games. I've captained many of those play-ers and I know how much it hurts them when things go badly.
"I know how much it hurts them to lose a tackle, let alone lose a game and be knocked out of a tournament, so there will be a lot of players hurting.