England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford does not envy his counterparts facing Harry Kane penalties he feels are more or less unsaveable.
Kane raced to the top of the Golden Boot standings at the World Cup with a hat-trick in Sunday’s 6-1 demolition of Panama in Group G.
Two of the Tottenham striker’s goals came from the penalty spot before half-time, dispatched with expert precision into the top-left corner and he is on five for the tournament overall.
Kane is not infallible – Liverpool’s Loris Karius denied him from the 12 yards in February – but he has scored 22 from 26 including shoot-outs across his career and Pickford confirmed facing his captain on a daily basis at England’s Repino training camp is not a great deal of fun.
“He’s a top forward for starters, that’s his main game, finishing,” the Everton man told a news conference.
“I was watching him from my end the other day and his two pens were top drawer. He’s been practising every day with them. We believe in him to finish them and he put them away with no pressure.
“[Penalties like those are] pretty much unsaveable, yeah. You’ve got to do a lot of guessing.
“The power behind it and the accuracy, both penalties were exactly the same really. It’s pot luck [for a goalkeeper] but when Harry’s finishing like that you’ve got no chance.”
— England (@England) June 24, 2018
Gareth Southgate has confirmed he will make changes to his starting XI for Thursday’s match against Belgium in Kaliningrad, with both sides already through to the last 16.
Germany’s opening defeat to Mexico means finishing second in Group G would avoid a route probably featuring either Brazil or the reigning champions as a quarter-final opponent.
Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez will also shuffle his pack and, when the prospect of the Red Devils not trying to win was put to Pickford, he found it agreeable.
“If that’s how they feel it will make my job easier. If they don’t want to score they won’t have any shots,” he joked.
“We’re ready for them and we’re ready to win the game as a group of lads. We want to finish top of the group.”
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