England news

Hodgson not worried about penalties

Coach not entertaining 'negative' thoughts

ESPN staff

Roy Hodgson has no fear of spot-kicks, but may choose to not watch© PA

England manager Roy Hodgson has not given any thought to the likelihood of Sunday's Euro 2012 quarter-final against Italy being decided by penalties.

It has been suggested Hodgson already knows which five players would take them, if the Three Lions' future in the tournament was decided from the spot in Kiev. The England boss has also been reminded on numerous occasions of the nation's unhappy record in such shoot-outs, including elimination from the 1998 and 2006 World Cups, in addition to Euro 2004 and those heart-breaking semi-final losses to Germany at the 1990 World Cup and Euro '96.

But Hodgson feels the significance of the entire penalty issue is being overblown. And he insists no thought will be given to who has to step up until the halfway point of extra time in the Olympic Stadium at the earliest.

"I really haven't decided on penalty takers so there's no point in speculating,'' Hodgson said. "First of all I don't know the game's going to penalties, and secondly who'll be on the field after the 120 minutes.

"I'm an optimist. I don't anticipate the game going to a penalty shoot-out. I anticipate us winning in 90 minutes so why should I concern myself with 120 minutes when we haven't even kicked the first ball yet? It's a negative thought and I don't really understand the obsession with it. From about half-time in extra time we'll know which of our more recognised penalty takers are there.

"I'm sure Ray (Lewington) and Gary (Neville) will be working feverishly to get some sort of order. Up to then, a penalty shoot-out is the least of my concerns.''

England's failure rate is a bit of an obsession, though. For instance, in a squad where there are few recognised penalty-takers at club level, the merits of introducing Leighton Baines - a dead-ball expert - have to be discussed.

Instead of deliberating such topics, Hodgson serves up a succession of notable failures to emphasise his point that the entire penalty issue is so much of a lottery it is hardly worth debating.

"Penalty shoot-outs are a hazardous way of deciding a game of football,'' he said. "It was decided upon because it was seen as slightly less hazardous than the toss of a coin, but you're pretty much in the same ballpark. It's got nothing to do with ability. I've seen Roberto Baggio miss penalties, Zico miss penalties and David Beckham miss penalties. I'm much more concerned about how we're going to face Italy, what problems they're going to cause us and what we have to do to try to win the game.''


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