England manager Gareth Southgate appreciates better than most what it feels like to have the responsibility to take and then miss a penalty for your country in a major international competition after his failure against Germany in Euro 96, which ultimately eliminated England.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Southgate is eager for his England players to overcome the mental battle ahead of next summer's World Cup in Russia. The England manager is considering 'staging' a penalty shoot-out to replicate the atmosphere and emotions that players will encounter in a big match situation, which can not be achieved in training.
England have a series of friendly fixtures planned and Italy in March looks like a possible option with the Azzurri likely to bring a legion of their own supporters which will add intensity to the match atmosphere.
It is something that was previously considered with former England boss Sven Goran Eriksson. The Swede considered putting on a shoot-out after a friendly, but changed his mind. Southgate admits it is something that he is seriously thinking about, especially with the Three Lions track record in major competitions.
The England manager said: “Well, it’s something that we are considering and how we prepare best for penalty shoot-outs,
“Whether that’s something on the training ground, whether that’s in sessions we do away from the training ground or something we do in some sort of match scenario, we’ve not finalised things like that yet. But clearly that is an option.”
While discussing the imaginative approach to cure England's penalty phobia, Southgate also warned England Number 1 Joe Hart that his place is no longer guaranteed, after Jordan Pickford's display against Germany on Friday night.
It looks likely that Hart will resume his place in the starting XI against Brazil on Tuesday night, but Southgate confirmed no player is safe. Stoke City's Jack Butland is also pushing the West Ham stopper hard despite breaking his finger in training, which has seen him recently withdraw from the squad.
Southgate added: “Jordan had an excellent game. It was good experience for him. We can wrap him up now, he can go back, we assess him in the next period with his club and it’s good that he goes away with a real positive experience.
“Now’s an opportunity for Joe to have experience against top opposition as well and we’re all aware that there’s really good competition for places in that area of the pitch.”