Southgate cutting no corners as he looks to build on penalty shoot-out success

England have been practising penalties since the start of the season.

Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has set aside time during every training camp since the Nations League games against Iceland, Denmark and Belgium last September.

England coaching staff have been keeping track of players’ success rates with every session as they prepare for a potential shoot-out in the Euros this summer.

Southgate’s men overcame a mental barrier in 2018 when they won a shoot-out against Colombia to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

But Southgate has been determined to build on that and make sure they are well prepared in the event of another penalty shoot-out.

They have made penalties a regular part of their training at St George’s Park with the squad preparing to start their Euros campaign against Croatia on Sunday.

Keeper Jordan Pickford was the hero against Colombia and took, scored and saved a penalty in the shoot-out in the Nations League win over Switzerland in 2019.

It is believed the Everton keeper would be willing to take a spot kick again despite having seen Manchester United lose in a shoot-out in the Europa League final when it came down to penalties and David de Gea saw his saved.

England assistant boss Steve Holland kept records in the build-up to 2018, ranking the squad from 1-23 with precise details from training sessions.

Southgate missed a penalty in Euro 96 and that has haunted him throughout his career and that has led to the England boss always promising he would practice for shoot-outs because of England’s poor record in previous tournaments.

Previous managers have not always practised penalties, insisting it is impossible to recreate the pressure situation.

But Southgate wants the players to be ready and well drilled with their penalty technique.

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England won two penalties in regular time during their clash with Romania on Sunday – their final warm-up game before Euro 2020 – but only managed to convert one.

Marcus Rashford calmly slid his effort into the bottom corner in the 68th minute, but he was not on the pitch when Dominic Calvert-Lewin won the second spot kick in the closing stages.

Jordan Henderson stepped up to take the penalty but saw his effort saved, with Southgate unsure why the Liverpool captain took over duties from 12 yards.

“I was expecting Dominic to take it and when Hendo walked over I thought he was making sure that happened, so I will have to check what happened,” said the England boss. “We will pull rank next time.

“Marcus and James Ward-Prowse were the two nominated at the start of the game and they’d both come off.

“But Hendo was the captain on the field by then. He was the one to make the decision. If I was Dom as the centre-forward I might not have gone along with that so easily.”

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