ENGLAND are practising penalties WITHOUT goalkeepers in a bid to avoid more shootout heartache.
Gareth Southgate does not want his stars’ confidence plummeting because his keepers are saving too many in training.
So the Three Lions, who agonisingly lost the Euro2020 final on penalties to Italy, are training for spot-kicks using a skill net which forces players to hit corners.
Keeper Aaron Ramsdale, 24, revealed: “It can become detrimental if they are taking them against goalkeepers because we then start to know where they are going.
“If I know where you are going seven times out of ten and I start cheating and going early and start saving them, you might start worrying about it.
“We have something which is called a skills net where the corners are open.
“At the moment the lads are just working on technique.
“Everybody can take penalties, it is just those fine pressure-margins which we can’t recreate out there unfortunately.”
Southgate’s attention to detail helped the Three Lions beat their spot-kick hoodoo in the last-16 win over Colombia at the last World Cup.
It was their first penalty shootout triumph in a World Cup — at their fourth attempt.
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Southgate prepared his players for penalties at Russia 2018 by getting them to replicate the dreaded walk from the halfway line to take them in training.
But after misses from Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka in the Euros final against Italy 16 months ago, England have won just two from nine shootouts at major tournaments — their only other success coming against Spain at Euro 96.
Ramsdale says players will build up to practicing penalties in front of keepers — but he would never let one in to build their confidence.
The Arsenal stopper, 24, added: “Start by aiming at where you are going to go in the skills net, take a couple against the goalkeeper and we go from there.
“There are various things we can do but we are never told to let one in. We would refuse to do that.
“There are certain things which we do naturally, such as if I know you are going left, but your run-up tells me you are going right, I am going to dive that way.
“Just because I know you are going that way does not mean I am going to dive that way. I will try to do things properly.
“Then there are times when they will get us to behave like the opposition goalie.
“I remember in the last camp when we played Germany and Harry scored his penalty, the day before I was in goal and tried to do what (Marc-Andre) Ter Stegen was going.
“He dived low and Harry aimed high and that came out in the game.”