Okay, let’s be realistic for a moment. England aren’t going to win the World Cup. They just aren’t. Aside from there being at least four teams who are operating on a different level entirely, England are hopeless at penalties and, as usual, we’ll almost certainly be eliminated in that cruelest of ways.
It happened at Italia 90, Euro 96, France 98, Portugal 2004, Germany 2006 and again in Euro 2012. It will happen again. Here we take a look at three men we’d love to see taking spot kicks for the Three Lions and two we’d really rather not.
The thinking Mod of British football, Baines, among the world’s best left-backs, has a left foot that would make Christy Brown keel over in a fit of jealousy. Whether crossing the ball, scoring from free-kicks or effortlessly converting penalties, Baines’ left peg is deadly.
In January this year he became the first man to take 10 Premier League penalties with a 100% record and if he steps up in Brazil there is every chance he’ll slot home with the minimum of fuss.
Lambert may be slightly chubby but he’s technically strong and from the spot there are few cooler than the Southampton forward. He may not be a starter but if there are subs spare with penalties looming you can be sure Lambert will come on.
He’s never missed one for the Saints, scoring 34 in a row, and has only ever missed two. Let’s hope number three doesn’t come in Brazil.
Completing our trio of Merseyside maestros is Steven Gerrard, a man with previous at missing them but a fine record from the spot otherwise.
His set plays, chiefly penalties and corners, have been better than ever this season and whilst he missed one against Portugal in 2006 we’re confident he would score if needed.
Rooney’s inclusion may come as a surprise but he has missed a number of penalties in his career.
He scored against Italy in 2012 from the spot but was relieved of his duty taking them for United after managing to score just 18 from 27 and we don’t fancy his chances under huge pressure at the World Cup.
Jagielka is unlikely to be one of the first five takers. However, he could well be six or seven and given defenders have a poor record taking penalties for England, we wouldn’t fancy Jags’ chances.
He missed a decisive spot kick for Everton in the UEFA Cup and whilst he has scored a penalty in a shootout against Chelsea, none of his two successes have been overly convincing.
He wouldn’t shirk the responsibility but we fear he’d be following the like of Stuart Pearce and Gareth Southgate into the penalty horror book and possible Pizza Hut advert.