At least one Englishman is looking forward to penalties against Italy


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The Independent Online

Joe Hart said yesterday that he is ready to face a penalty shoot-out against Italy in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals on Sunday and would even take a penalty himself – as he did successfully for the Under-21s three years ago.

The England goalkeeper was a star performer in the Under-21s team that was the first England side to win a penalty shoot-out since Euro 96 when they overcame Sweden in the European Championship semi-final three years ago, saving one and converting his own spot-kick. He was also booked for trying to put off a Swedish penalty taker, and that meant he missed the final.

Hart said: "I try not to talk about how I deal with penalties. I've not got a magic answer. I just know in my head what I want to do. If worst comes to worst on Sunday and it comes to penalties, I'd like to think I've got some kind of advantage.

"I don't know if I'll be one of the five penalty-takers, but I'll put my name forward. But we've got some quality players in this squad and if there are five other potentially better than me, I'll be cool with that."

Hart said he would be prepared to do anything "within the rules" to put the opposition off in a penalty shoot-out, as he did in Sweden. "I found a way and we won. That was the main thing. The referee didn't find it as funny as I did. But you find a way to win within the rules. I did that to the best I could and we won the tie."

There was a penalty-taking session at the end of England training yesterday in which eight out of the eight spot-kicks were successfully converted against reserve goal- keeper Robert Green. Roy Hodgson will have the first opportunity since the Ukraine game to put on a full training session this morning here in Krakow. Yesterday, Ashley Cole, who has struggled to train much at all in the last two weeks, left the pitch to use the swimming pool that adjoins the Hutnik stadium where England have been training.

The England medical department are confident that Ashley Young, who picked up a shin injury against Ukraine, will be fit.

Wayne Rooney said the England camp had been a harmonious place. He told talkSPORT: "We are more organised than ever and we are all fighting for each other. We all want to do this together, so I think we have got a great chance.

"We feel good, we've prepared well and we are looking forward to it. Once you get to this stage, anything can happen."