Southgate plans Wembley shootout practice in bid to end penalty pain
England’s football team might be put through a mock penalty shootout in front of a Wembley crowd as Gareth Southgate sets about trying to make sure his team will be fully prepared from 12 yards in the World Cup.
Southgate resisted the temptation to arrange a practice shootout against Germany, the team famous for their penalty prowess, after the goalless draw at Wembley on Friday but England’s manager is considering putting one in place for one of the Wembley friendlies closer to the tournament.
England have gone out of six major tournaments – three World Cups and three European Championships – since Chris Waddle skied his penalty in Italia 90 and have only one success to their name against Spain in Euro 96. Taking into account the King Hassan II International Cup in Morocco, pre-France 98, when Rob Lee and Les Ferdinand were the guilty men, England’s overall record stands at seven failures out of eight.
Sven-Goran Eriksson considered putting on a dress rehearsal when England played Jamaica at Old Trafford before the World Cup in 2006. The Swede never went through with it, however, and three of England’s penalty-takers, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, went on to miss in the quarter-final shootout against Portugal.
As anyone who can remember the pizza advert will be able to testify, Southfrom gate also has first-hand experience from Euro 96 about what it is like to take, and miss, a decisive penalty in a major competition and the England manager is determined the modern team will be ready in next summer’s World Cup.
“It’s something that we are considering – how we prepare best for penalty shootouts,” Southgate said. “Whether that’s something on the training ground, whether that’s in sessions we do away the training ground, or something we do in some sort of match scenario. We’ve not finalised that yet but clearly that [match situation] is an option.”
England have another friendly against Italy at Wembley on 27 March, with a game against Holland in Amsterdam four days earlier, and will then arrange two more fixtures before the squad fly to their World Cup base in Repino, outside St Petersburg.
In the meantime Southgate is warning Joe Hart, the goalkeeper he insists is still his No1, that he is facing increased competition after Jordan Pickford’s impressive debut against Germany. Hart will return for tomorrow’s friendly against Brazil at Wembley but Southgate confirmed the West Ham United goalkeeper would have missed out again if Jack Butland had not broken a finger. “Jordan had an excellent game. It was a good experience for him, we can wrap him up now, assess him in the next period with his club and it’s good that he goes away with a really positive experience. Now’s an opportunity for Joe to have experience against top opposition as well and we’re all aware there’s really good competition in that area of the pitch.
“We have six months where all our goalkeeping department can show what they can do. What Jordan has shown is that he’s been able to make his debut at Wembley, play with composure and show his qualities. He’s still a young goalkeeper, still learning, and there are things to improve but it was a really positive debut.”
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Gareth Southgate, who missed the decisive penalty against Germany at Euro 96, wants England to be prepared fully for any shootout