• Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney likely takers against Italy
• Ashley Young, James Milner and Ashley Cole also in frame
Roy Hodgson will intensify penalty practice ahead of Sunday's quarter-final collision with Italy as England attempt to reach the last four of a major finals for the first time since Euro 96.
England have departed five of the past nine tournaments in which they have participated after fluffing their lines in a penalty shootout, a sequence that stretches back 22 years, to the World Cup in Italy, and has served to scar the national psyche. The game in Kiev may be decided on spot-kicks, with Hodgson, painfully aware of England's wretched record from 12 yards, placing a heavy emphasis on penalties.
"We have practised them already and use the time after training sessions regularly to practise some of those," he said. "We'll obviously take it even more seriously now, working on that aspect of the game. Of course, you can practise penalty shootouts until the cows come home but it's really all about composure, confidence and an ability to block everything out and forget the occasion. You hope the practice makes a big difference but it boils down to the strength of mind of the individual. That's what determines whether you score or don't score."
Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole, John Terry and Wayne Rooney experienced the disappointment of elimination to Portugal in the quarter-final shootouts at Euro 2004 and the World Cup in Germany two years later. Gerrard was among those who missed in Gelsenkirchen in 2006, when only Owen Hargreaves scored, but the captain is now England's designated penalty taker in matches.
Rooney, Ashley Young, James Milner, Danny Welbeck and Cole – who netted so impressively in Chelsea's shootout success in the European Cup final against Bayern Munich last month, a game refereed by Sunday's designated official, the Portuguese Pedro Proença – would expect to be on the list of potential takers.
John Terry, who infamously missed from the spot against Manchester United in the 2008 Champions League final, has indicated to the coaching staff a willingness to take a penalty if required.
The goalkeeper Joe Hart could also feature after scoring for the Under-21s in their 5-4 penalty win over Sweden in Gothenburg in the semi-final of the juniors' European Championship in 2009. Of the current senior squad Theo Walcott also netted that evening, with Milner missing, in what was England's first shootout win since they beat Spain in the quarter-finals at Euro 96. The Under-21s' coach, Stuart Pearce, had drilled his players every day on spot-kicks throughout that tournament in Sweden, a tactic Hodgson is also using.
Italy may have claimed the World Cup in 2006 by beating France on spot-kicks after a 1-1 draw but their record is uninspiring. Only twice in seven shootouts have they prevailed, with their involvement at the last European Championship curtailed after they lost 4-2 to the eventual winners, Spain, in Vienna. "To be honest, I've not paid much attention to our record," said the midfielder Daniele De Rossi. "But, during a shootout you have to stay calm and lots will depend on your goalkeeper as well. If it comes to it, we'll try and perform like we did in the 2006 World Cup final, not like in 2008, to get through."
The England manager acknowledged the reality that shootouts tend to induce tremors of fear in the national setup. "It's because we've lost important matches on penalties so it's going to be that way," he said. "When you are working with the England national team the past is always going to weigh heavily because everything we do today is being compared with something that happened in the past. The class example was 'Was Ukraine's goal over the line' on Tuesday? If it was, it's pay back for something that happened four or eight year ago. That's where we are. Unfortunately we have lost two very, very important semi-finals on penalties [to Germany at the 1990 World Cup and at Euro 96] so I presume that's going to be there during all my time as national coach. In fact, when a national coach comes along 20 years hence, he will be asked the same question as well."