Gareth Southgate says England are “mentally and physically” prepared for penalties when they take on Senegal in the World Cup last 16 on Sunday.
England have been involved in three shootouts since Southgate took charge in 2016. They beat Colombia at the 2018 World Cup in Russia before overcoming Switzerland in the Nations League a year later.
Although their most recent shootout ended in defeat against Italy in the Euro 2020 final last summer, England boss Southgate believes his players are ready to go the distance against the African champions as they target a quarter-final place in Qatar this weekend.
“We’re prepared. We’ve had a process that we’ve followed,” Southgate said at his pre-match press conference.
“We’ve won two of three shootouts and looked at how we can improve. But of course, there are so many other aspects we have to get right.
“We’re aiming to win the game in 90 minutes and to avoid extra time and penalties. But if we need to go beyond that we have to be ready mentally and physically. I believe we are.”
Southgate: We need to improve from set-pieces
As England head into the knockout stage, Southgate also admitted his side must improve on scoring from set-pieces.
They scored six set-piece goals in seven matches four years ago in Russia, two of which put them ahead in both the quarter-final and semi-final. England, who have scored nine goals in total so far in Qatar, have only managed two from set-pieces.
Asked if they had been paying closer attention to them ahead of Sunday’s game, Southgate replied: “No more than we normally do.
“We haven’t been as effective from set-pieces as we would have liked to have been yet, so there’s definitely more improvement needed from us on that.
“Set-pieces and even throw-ins, those small details, every team in the world are trying to get better and better at all the time.”
Kane: My foot is improving day by day
Speaking alongside Southgate was England captain Harry Kane, who revealed his foot “feels fine” after suffering a knock during the second half of England’s Group B opener against Iran.
The 29-year-old was substituted soon after the heavy challenge in the 6-2 win but recovered quickly to start against the USA and Wales as England finished top of their group.
Kane, who is yet to score in Qatar, admits he is feeling fit and sharp and is hoping to break his duck against Senegal at Al Bayt Stadium.
“My foot feels fine. It’s no problem at all and it’s been getting better day by day,” he said.
“I would love to be sitting here with two or three goals but the group stages have gone well. Minutes-wise it’s not been too tough.
“When you look at the numbers the games haven’t been too physical. I feel really good, fit and sharp coming off the back of the Premier League schedule.
“I feel as match fit as I’m ever going to feel. and I think I’ve been playing well.
“Goals are what I will be judged on most, but I’m a calm individual and I always feel like doing my best for the team. Hopefully, I can get off the mark tomorrow.”
Dier: Shootout win over Colombia broke down mental barriers
Eric Dier insists England are ready for a World Cup shootout in Qatar after they broke down “mental barriers” by beating Colombia on penalties four years ago.
The win at the last-16 stage in Russia was England’s first in a World Cup at their fourth attempt.
The Colombia victory, in which Dier scored the decisive effort after goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had saved superbly from Carlos Bacca, has been hailed as a watershed moment by the Tottenham defender.
“There are ifs, buts and maybes aren’t there,” he said.
“I feel like that World Cup, it’s difficult for me to say because I was involved, but I felt in that game we broke down a lot of mental barriers and stereotypes that exist in English football surrounding things like knockout games and penalty shootouts and playing against that type of opposition as well.
“I think that game I remember it felt at the time like it was a weight off our shoulders and I think you saw that in the next game against Sweden (in the quarter-final).
“No one was talking about us winning it and that game was a moment in which we all felt like we had got over a few hurdles and now we were free to just play and some of the weight of history had been removed from our backs. “
Maguire: Fans have been great, I’m in a good moment
Harry Maguire says he comes into the Senegal match in a “good moment” – after re-establishing his place as one of England’s key players after three positive group stage matches.
Despite barely featuring for Manchester United since the start of the domestic season, Maguire has helped England keep back-to-back clean sheets against the United States and Wales in this World Cup.
Despite receiving fan backlash for his pre-tournament displays for club and country, Maguire – who attended major tournaments with England as a matchgoing fan as recently as Euro 2016 – says he has always felt the backing of England’s supporters.
“I’m in a good moment, three good games as a group but as an individual as well,” Maguire told Sky Sports News on the eve of the Senegal match.
“The fans have been great with me ever since I made my debut, 51 caps later and they’re still chanting my name. I know the England fans, I’ve followed the team throughout my life and been in the stands with them, signing and chanting.
“I know how passionate they are and they’ve been amazing with me since I made my debut. They give me great belief, confidence and motivation to make sure I’m a success for my country.”
Maguire says he and his England team-mates will not take Senegal for granted on Sunday evening, with the defender insisting the Africa Cup of Nations champions have “dangerous players”.
“They’re a good team – tough opposition,” said the centre-back. “They’re used to winning, especially in recent years.
“The mentality that they have – you saw how they got the job done against Ecuador. They were efficient with the ball and have good and dangerous players.
“I don’t know what the [England] fans are saying or thinking but for sure we won’t be underestimating them. We know how tough it is.”
As for England’s World Cup chances, Maguire added: “The expectation has risen, for sure. Going into the 2018 World Cup, we wanted to do well and had good belief in ourselves as a group but we didn’t expect to win the tournament .
“This World Cup is so tough and has some great teams in it. But we feel like we’re one of them and we have an opportunity to make history again.
“We know it will be tough and you need them big moments and big goals in games, especially in knockout football. But we have players who can deliver that moment.”
Round of 16 – Sunday December 4th
England vs Senegal – Kick off 7pm
Quarter finals – Saturday December 10
England vs France or Poland – Kick off 7pm
Semi finals – Wednesday December 14
England vs Morocco/Spain/Portugal/Switzerland – Kick off 7pm
sunday december 4
France (Winners of Group D) vs Poland (Runners up of Group C) – Kick off 3pm
England (Winners of Group B) vs Senegal (Runners up of Group A) – Kick off 7pm
Monday December 5th
Japan (Cinners of Group E) vs Croatia (Runners up of Group F) – Kick off 3pm
Brazil (Winners of Group G) vs south korea (Runners up of Group H) – Kick off 7pm
Tuesday December 6th
Morocco (Winners of Group F) vs Spain (Runners up of Group E) – Kick off 3pm
Portugal (Winners of Group H) vs Switzerland (Runners up of Group G) – Kick off 7pm