Joe Hart insists he is happy for Luis Suarez to recover in time for England’s World Cup Group D showdown with Uruguay, because of his team-mates’ familiarity with the striker.
Hart has only been beaten once in six games by Suarez at club level and believes the Liverpool contingent in the England squad can help stop the Uruguay hitman when the sides meet in Sao Paolo next Thursday.
“The fact is we know Suarez and we know that he can be trouble,” he told The Sun. “But knowing him doesn’t make him any more trouble.
“There’ll be some familiarity, the Liverpool players will know him a lot better. I’m sure they’ll give us their input on the different ways of stopping him.
“So hopefully that’s only going to help.
“It’s fair to say we are more familiar with Italy. We know a bit about Uruguay because of the Suarez factor and Cavani.
“Costa Rica are a bit more unknown at the moment. But we’ll do our research. It’s three really tough games – but it’s a World Cup so you don’t expect anything else.
“They’re all dangerous, they all came through tough qualifying campaigns. Italy in Europe and the other two in South America. It’s not easy to do that.”
With the tricky group ahead of them, England have been widely tipped to fall at the first hurdle on football’s biggest stage. But Hart believes Roy Hodgson’s young squad can shine in Brazil.
He said: “We’ve had a really positive season with these players, the young guys coming through.
“I think we have to go out there with no fear – and make sure we leave the tournament with no regrets.”
For Hart, it will be a tournament of redemption. Unfancied by Fabio Capello four years ago, the goalkeeper was forced to watch on as first Rob Green then David James made mistakes that ultimately led to England’s elimination in South Africa.
But he says he benefited from the experience. “I enjoyed the last World Cup,” he said. “I had not been involved in too many squads before that. I’d had a good season at Birmingham.
“I understood that Rob Green and David James had played in the majority of the qualifiers, so I was happy to back them up, provide support. This time, I hope I’ll be playing.
“It’s amazing to think on the back of a great season at Manchester City I’m going to go and play in a World Cup as well.”
“I feel privileged to be part of it.”
Meanwhile, Hodgson has had his England players practicing penalties into empty nets with hoops to aim at as they prepare for the possibility of another shootout.
England’s record when knockout games go to spotkicks at tournaments is poor, having been knocked out at the 1990, 1998 and 2006 World Cups, as well as the European Championships in 1996, 2004 and 2012.
So Hodgson divided the practice goal into sections for his players to aim at.
“We’ll have a few penalties today, but it’s more for the fun of it at the moment,” Hodgson revealed. “I don’t think practising penalties every day for the next two or three weeks until the group stage is over is going to make a vast deal of difference.
“Strangely enough, today, we will have a little penalty practice at the end of the session, but we haven’t got down to thinking who the five will be.
“But it’s not a difficult decision when the time comes, because we know who the penalty-takers are – we know who takes penalties for their clubs. It’s an easy thing to do. You don’t need three weeks of preparation for that.”