Hodgson eager to tackle England penalty jinx

Last Updated: Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 10:56

London: England manager Roy Hodgson says he is willing to think outside the box in a bid to end the national team`s record of penalty shoot-out heartache at major international tournaments.

England have been eliminated on penalties at five of the last eight showpiece competitions in which they have competed and former head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson admitted in his new autobiography that he regretted not seeking out the services of a mental coach.

The Football Association has moved to address the problem by employing Dave Reddin, who helped the British Olympic team with their psychological preparations for last year`s London Games, and Hodgson says he is looking forward to working with him.

"To suggest that the mental side plays no part, that`s a nonsense. Of course it does," Hodgson said.

"Whether or not someone who`s a trained psychologist could actually help a player shoot better from a penalty shoot-out or whether his club and his coaches and manager can help him, that`s a discussion.

"But I`ve got an open mind on the subject, I really have. I`m prepared to listen to the expertise and also to involve the players in it, because there`s no point in doing anything with the players at the level I`m working at that they`re not prepared to buy into. Otherwise it`s just a waste of time."

England play Chile at Wembley on Friday before facing old rivals Germany four days later, as they embark upon a journey that will lead them to the World Cup in Brazil in seven months` time.

Hodgson is expected to shuffle his pack for the Chile game before naming his strongest available line-up against Germany, but he has expressed fears that Jack Wilshere may not be able to take part.

The Arsenal midfielder has missed his club`s last two matches due to an ankle injury and is a doubt for the Premier League leaders` trip to Manchester United on Sunday.

Wilshere spent 17 months on the sidelines after suffering a stress fracture to his right ankle in June 2011, although the new injury concerns his other ankle.

The 21-year-old`s place in the Arsenal first team has come under threat this season due to the arrivals of Mesut Ozil and Mathieu Flamini and the stunning form of Aaron Ramsey, but Hodgson says his fitness is a matter of greater concern.

"It`s more his ankle injury that concerns us here," Hodgson told journalists during a briefing at Wembley Stadium.

"He took a blow to it. From what we understand, it`s become inflamed and it became swollen and the Arsenal medical staff are dealing with it.

"We`re in constant contact with the Arsenal medical staff to find out where he is and what the likelihood is of this being recovered by the time we get together next Tuesday.

He added: "It will be a discussion between not only the medical staff, but something which (Arsenal manager) Arsene (Wenger), Jack and I need to be involved in.

"Because I`m sure Jack will want to play and I think Arsenal won`t be averse to him playing either, because he hasn`t played so many games this season and they might also be happy to see him playing again."

Hodgson also revealed that he might attempt to persuade captain Steven Gerrard to prolong his international career beyond the World Cup.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said this week that he believes the 33-year-old midfielder, who has won 107 caps, will retire from international football next year, but Hodgson says he could ask him to play on.

"I know one thing: as a coach, I`d always be trying to keep what I think are the best players available and wanting to play for England, so who knows?" Hodgson said.

"After the World Cup, if Steven does say, `I want to retire,` and I still think, `No, don`t do that, you can carry on,` I`d be more than happy to have the conversation with him. But at the moment I just don`t know the answer."

AFP

First Published: Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 11:12

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