Football: England hone shootout skills ahead of World Cup, says Pickford

Football: England hone shootout skills ahead of World Cup, says Pickford

LONDON: England are preparing for the prospect of penalties at next month’s World Cup as they look to avoid a familiar fate of being knocked out of a major competition on spot kicks, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has said.

England’s senior team have an unenviable record in sudden-death situations, having failed in six out of seven shootouts in competitive events. Their only success came against Spain in the quarter-finals of the European championships in 1996.

“Behind the scenes we are doing a lot of work to get preparation for how we would want to go about it,” Pickford told British media.

“There are a lot of good penalty takers here and we’ve been practising the last couple of days … it’s been hard to save them,” the 24-year-old, who has two caps for England, added.

Pickford is one of three keepers in Gareth Southgate’s squad with the manager omitting the experienced but out-of-form Joe Hart for the Jun 14 to Jul 15 tournament in Russia.

The Everton keeper has impressed since making his England debut in an international friendly against Germany last November and his chances of taking over as number one improved after a fine display in a 1-0 win away to the Netherlands in March.

Pickford is competing with Jack Butland and the uncapped Nick Pope but suggested there is no clarity on who will start England’s warm-up clash against Nigeria on Saturday.

“None of us know yet … we work hard on the training pitch. Me, Popey and Butland. We are all working hard and pushing each other, so it is all competition.”

England open their World Cup campaign with a Group G match against Tunisia in Volgograd on Jun 18.

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