London: England goalkeeper Joe Hart has said he would stick up his hand and volunteer to take one of the five penalties against Italy if their Euro 2012 quarter final is to be decided on spot-kicks.
Given England’s recent record during the knockout phases of major tournaments, Roy Hodgson’s side has spent a generous amount of time in practising penalties.
Hart has also spent some of his preparations for Sunday’s Euro 2012 quarterfinal watching Italy’s penalty takers but is equally willing to step forward and take one of his own.
“I’d take one of the first five penalties if they wanted me to - 100 per cent,” Hart said. “I’ll put my name forward. Hopefully it won’t come to that.”
With captain Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney the only two recognised penalty-kick takers for their respective clubs in the squad, England would have a pot from Ashley Cole, John Terry, Scott Parker, Ashley Young, James Milner and Hart to pick from.
The Manchester City goalkeeper also revealed he practised taking penalties as much as the rest of the England squad. When asked about how much he practised, he said, “As much as anyone else, I do like to take my penalties.”
Hart also confirmed he looked into how his opponents took penalties and that he would watch a video of the Italian players taking spot-kicks close to kick-off time on Sunday.
“I do my research, I know where all the Italian players put their penalties,” he said. “I watch it (the video) on my own. I watch it quite late in the day.”
Hart admitted his Manchester City teammate Mario Balotelli could be a danger if the striker plays for Italy in Kiev on Sunday.
Hart said: “He could be a great threat, he’s a great player.”
The England keeper backed defender and City teammate Joleon Lescott to cope with Balotelli if the two face each other in the game.
“More importantly Joleon knows him. I’ve never actually played against the guy (Balotelli) but it would be a lot of fun,” he said.
Despite the interest surrounding Balotelli’s off-filed antics, Hart insisted the focus of the England players would be on the game.