IN A bid to boost his team’s mental strength at the World Cup, England coach Roy Hodgson revealed he has hired a psychiatrist for the lead-up to the tournament in Brazil.
Hodgson said Dr Steve Peters is the right man to help the team prepare for the trip. “(He) is a very famous man in that area,” Hodgson said. “He has a great CV of working in different sports and has been doing some work with Liverpool.”
Peters, who has a close relationship with England captain Steven Gerrard, is the man behind British cycling’s recent successes. He has helped the likes of Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton to master the mental side of their sport.
Peters’ methods also seemed to work for the England rugby team which reached the 2007 World Cup final. His list of clients also includes five-time world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and cycling’s Team Sky, which produced two Tour de France champions. His work at Liverpool seems to be helping as well, with the Reds currently second in the Premier League standings.
Peters first helped Gerrard when he was struggling with a serious groin injury back in 2010. “He has helped me with my mental preparation and injuries and I’ve played my most consistent form for Liverpool and England since seeing Steve,” Gerrard said. “I feel he can help the players if the players buy into what he is trying to do. He can’t help you do a (Johan) Cruyff turn or a 40-yard pass better but he can help you learn what goes off inside your head.”
With 100 days to go before the World Cup, England start their final preparations with a friendly against Denmark tonight at Wembley Stadium.
Hodgson had a cold yesterday but Gerrard had no sympathy as he challenged the squad to give the England manager a selection headache lasting all the way to the World Cup.
Tonight will be the last chance to make a mark on the international stage before Hodgson names his 23-man squad. With 30 players being called up for the game against the Danes, it is clear Hodgson is still undecided on the exact make-up of his squad and Gerrard said now is the time for individuals to give their final push for a place on the plane to Brazil.
“It is time to start getting excited,” Gerrard said. “It is time as a player you want to continue to impress the manager or grasp your opportunity to impress. That is the chance, try and win the game and play well personally and for the team and make sure the manager doesn’t leave you out the 23.”
For Hodgson it is a chance to have a closer look at new boy Luke Shaw, with Steven Caulker, Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling also looking to stake a claim. The England boss wants a positive performance but insists the game itself will not be the sole basis of any decisions.
“I’m looking for them to show that they take it very seriously and are anxious that I shall pick them,” said Hodgson. “I’m not going to suddenly pick someone I wouldn’t have picked because he scores a goal against Denmark. On the same basis, I’m not going to leave anyone out who is a key member of our team because he has a poor game.”
The squad for Denmark contains a number of players who are not currently considered automatic first-choice selections for their clubs. “I have tried to choose players on their qualities and what they can do for us. There are a few who aren’t playing regularly but I don’t think they feel disadvantaged by that,” said Hodgson.