England's Southgate considering shootout prep ahead of World Cup

Gareth Southgate is considering pre-World Cup penalty shootouts in a bid to rid England of their spot-kick woes.

The Three Lions have a horror record when games go to penalties, losing seven knockout matches from 12 yards.

Their woeful run started against West Germany at Italia 90 and has continued apace, even spreading to the England Women and Under-21 sides.

Southgate knows about the horrors more than most, with his kick being the one that saw England exit Euro 96 at the semifinal stage.

And, as the manager prepares his side for the World Cup in Russia, he may look to bring in dress rehearsals ahead of the main event.

"It's something that we are considering and how we prepare best for penalty shootouts,'' he said.

"Whether that's something on the training ground, whether that's in sessions we do away from the training ground or something we do in some sort of match scenario, we've not finalised things like that yet. But clearly that is an option.''

For any game that does go to penalties, Southgate will need a goalkeeper upon whom he can rely.

Joe Hart has been that man not just for Southgate but predecessor Roy Hodgson too, but finds himself under scrutiny with the likes of Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford waiting in the wings.

Pickford made his debut against Germany on Friday -- starting after Butland dropped out through injury -- but Hart will return against Brazil on Tuesday.

"Jordan had an excellent game. Good experience for him, we can wrap him up now, he can go back, we assess him now in the next period with his club and good that he goes away with a real positive experience,'' Southgate said.

"Now's an opportunity for Joe to have experience against top opposition as well and we're all aware that there's really good competition for places in that area of the pitch.''

Southgate also said he is getting closer to piecing together England's "big jigsaw'' ahead of the World Cup.

A string of injury setbacks changed Southgate's "objectives'' for the Brazil matchup, but also offered the chance to give young talent a chance to prove their worth.

The players appear to have adapted well to the situation and the three-man backline, giving Southgate food for thought as he whittles down his options ahead of the World Cup.

"Well, I think we would be very close to the 23 in March but there's obviously four or five players perhaps that aren't with us through injury now,'' the England boss said.

"There might be some who are here now but might be in that same situation [out] in March, so I don't think it can be as clear cut as that.

"But, for sure, I think in our minds we're getting closer. We've almost got a big jigsaw puzzle now we know how we want to play, what are the pieces that fit into it, who would be our preferred choices.

"But, as I say, fitness and form can come into it.''

The race is on for those injured or omitted to prove their worth to Southgate, with the squad shaping up to be hugely different to the last World Cup.

Gone are proven, experienced performers like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney, replaced by potential and fresh hope.

"Clearly, it's not ideal in terms of what you'd want for a major tournament in terms of how far you might progress and the lack of big game experience,'' Southgate said.

"However, I think it's exciting. We've got a freshness about us, an energy about us, that people have enjoyed, we're a young team.

"There will be difficult nights, I'm sure, but we've got players we believe in.

"It's good to invest the time in and the only way for them to get experience is to play and if they are going to play then we might as well play top opposition so they really get a feel of what's really required at international level to win and what they, and we as a team, might need to work on.''

Asked what he would consider a successful World Cup next summer, Southgate added: "Well, my gauge of success would be that we come back from the tournament with the fans proud of how we've played and that means we'll have played well and won some matches.

"[On Friday] we left Wembley and people were excited by what they saw, enjoyed the game, that's my desire as the manager to produce a team which sends people home feeling that way.''

Southgate may not be able to call upon experience but there is certainly strength in depth that "drives improved performance,'' with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Harry Winks among those recently to increase pressure on more established performers.

Loftus-Cheek was one of five players to make their senior bow against Germany and three even fresher faces have been called up to face Brazil, with Dominic Solanke, Lewis Cook and Angus Gunn drafted in from the Under-21s squad.

"It's been pleasing to see Angus now playing regular first-team football [at Norwich], it's his first season doing that,'' said Southgate, who plans to make some changes against Brazil while maintaining some stability.

"We didn't want to call in a more senior keeper this time given that we're only a few days and we thought it's a good opportunity for Angus to get the experience.

"With Dom and Lewis, we're talking about a reward really for one captaining the Under-20 world cup winners and the other one the Golden Boot winner for the Under-20s world cup winners.

"Both have won at European under-17 level and the World Cup at Under-20 so their pedigree is good and we're looking forward to integrating them into the seniors.''