sport

Roy ready to use psychologist

Roy Hodgson is ready to turn to a psychologist to ensure England avoid the heartbreak of another penalty shoot-out defeat at this summer's World Cup finals.

Hodgson's England trod a familiar path to the exit of a major tournament at Euro 2012, losing out on spot-kicks to quarter-final opponents Italy.

And the manager told a Footballers' Football Show special on Monday he is determined to give his players the best chance of succeeding in Brazil where their recent forbears have failed six times since 1990.

Sitting alongside Adrian Bevington, the Football Association's chief planner for the summer, and Glenn Hoddle, another England boss to suffer a shoot-out defeat, Hodgson said: "I'm not averse to using a psychologist.

"We are considering, with Adrian's help, the possibility of inviting someone with us but I think it's very important they're someone who is part of the group. I'm not sure just suddenly shipping someone in to give the players a lecture would work.

"I think there's another possibility we should be encouraging payers to know their penalty, to practise that penalty. When you practise penalties within your group the goalkeeper knows the players, so maybe we won't do it with a goalkeeper.

"Maybe we'll have target area No 1 and target area No 2 and we'll insist the player hits those targets. There are a lot of things that can be done but the bottom line is always going to be there'll be players who are less confident than others.

"It's a matter of how we assure ourselves that when those players go up they are as well prepared as they can be. In the final analysis it will be their character, their confidence and their ability to block out tomorrow morning's headlines.

"Some players are good at that, other players find it harder. If a psychologist can find a way of getting a player to block that out we'll be very very happy."

Both Hodgson and Bevington made it clear during an hour of in-depth conversation nothing is being left to chance ahead of the finals, and last year's appointment of Dave Reddin as head of performance services was made partly with sports psychology in mind.

Hodgson said: "Since we appointed (elite development director) Dan Ashworth and Dave Reddin we have people looking very much into the sports scientific aspect of football, and I'm sure they'll have one or two ideas on the subject.

"People like myself and my coaches Ray Lewington and Gary Neville are all ears - we're not writing anything off. If someone could come up with some foolproof, innovative way of making certain an England player will never miss another penalty I can assure that person I'll implement it straight away."

Hoddle has seen both sides of a penalty for England - as taker and manager - and believes the key to a successful kick is mastering your emotions on the walk to the spot.

He said: "It's the worst walk in football - the walk from the halfway line to the spot. Taking a penalty technically isn't the problem."