Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has been honing his spot-kick skills as Roy Hodgson looks to avoid another World Cup penalty shoot-out nightmare.
England face a tough World Cup group involving Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica but Hodgson is clearly looking ahead to the knockout stages.
However, there was not a goalkeeper in sight as practice commenced in Rio, Hodgson preferring to get his players aiming their penalties at various hoops positioned around the goal.
“It’s more for fun at the moment,” he said.
“I don’t think practising penalties every day for the next two or three weeks until the group stage is over is going to make a vast deal of difference.”
Hodgson insisted he hadn’t thought about who his five penalty takers would be in the event of more spot kick drama – though Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Rickie Lambert, Leighton Baines and Wayne Rooney have the responsibility at their respective clubs.
“We haven’t got down to thinking who the five will be, you don’t need weeks of preparation for that,” he added.
“It’s not a difficult decision when the time comes because we know who the penalty takers are. We know who takes penalties for their clubs.”
England were knocked out of the World Cup on spot kicks in 1990, 1998 and 2006 and were beaten on penalties by Italy at the quarter-final stage of Euro 2012 – scoring only two of their four attempts.
Indeed in seven major championship shoot-out they have lost six times – missing 12 of their 35 kicks.
However, the England under-17 team recently showed how to do it – beating Holland in their European Championship final without missing a single kick.
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