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Joe Hart ready and willing to be one of five England penalty takers against Italy during quarter-final


Joe Hart speaks to the  press at Andels Hotel, Krakow. Photo: PA

Joe Hart speaks to the press at Andels Hotel, Krakow. Photo: PA

Joe Hart speaks to the press at Andels Hotel, Krakow. Photo: PA

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 have spend a generous amount of time in training practicing penalties.

Hart has also spent some of his preparations for Sunday's Euro 2012 quarter-final 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 team-mate 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 team-mate 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.

He said: "We will just be concentrating on our game. I think Italy are a good side regardless of what team they put out."

Hart also paid tribute to the small band of England fans who had backed the team in the 1-0 win over Ukraine in Donetsk which secured top place in Group D and set them up for a meeting with Italy.

"No matter how many there are the fans mean the world to you," he said.

Hart also paid tribute to his team-mates after they exceeded the expectations of some to reach the last eight.

He said: "It's obviously a great achievement, something we set out to do at the start of the tournament.

"I think we started well with the right idea and the right kind of game plans for each game. I think we've executed them well.

"Regardless of what some people thought that was nothing to do with the camp.

"There has been a group of people that's thought we would not do that well."