FA psychologist helping England squad prepare for Ukraine clash after Germany comedown

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·2-min read
FA psychologist helping England squad prepare for Ukraine clash after Germany comedown
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 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Jordan Pickford has revealed England’s team psychologist has been helping the squad to prepare for Saturday’s Euro 2020 quarter-final against Ukraine after the high of Tuesday’s famous win over Germany.

Gareth Southgate warned his players they were facing a “dangerous moment” following England’s first knockout win over Germany for 55 years, while captain Harry Kane says the meeting with Ukrainian in Rome will be a “mental” test for the squad.

England go into the game with Andriy Shevchenko’s side as firm favourites but will not have the backing of a home crowd for the first time at the Finals.

The players are being assisted around the clock by the Football Association’s head of performance psychology, Dr. Ian Mitchell, and Pickford revealed ‘Mitch’ was helping the players to prepare for the challenge.

“It was a massive win and a massive moment for me in my career to be beating Germany at home,” the goalkeeper said. “It was a great day and great experience but we have the staff in the country, the best sports scientists and psychologists.

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“So we have all that in place to give us the best chance for Saturday.

“Mitch is always available if you need to speak to him – just a proper, nice down-to-earth bloke really. We have some proper recovery sessions as a group with Mitch – just some breathing sessions – and we get some nice breathing techniques. If you need to see him he is always available.

“We did it on Wednesday [after the win over Germany] and if you need to do added sessions with Mitch it is always available. All the staff here are always available any time of the day – if it is treatment, Mitch, the analysis staff... they are all working extra hours for us to be at our peak.”

Pickford will surpass Gordan Banks’s record of four consecutive clean sheets at a major tournament, set in 1966, if he keeps another shutout against Ukraine but the Everton stopper insisted England’s defensive solidity was a team effort.

“It starts with Harry Kane up front up top,” Pickford said. “The manager puts out game plans to be ready for every hurdle we come across. We need to be on our A-game. If we can’t press, what’s the next line?

“We’ve got a lot of messages to take in as players. When everyone is working hard there is no better feeling than keeping a clean sheet. It’s not just me it’s the whole 11 and the lads coming off the bench as well. It’s a real team togetherness.

“The goalkeepers’ union is great. We work hard every day. One hundred per cent. First body in. No cutting corners. We work hard but we share the load and get the best out of each other.”

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