England recruit psychiatrist Steve Peters for World Cup
'He can't help you do a Cruyff turn... but he can help you learn what goes off in your head'
THERE'S a doctor in the house and his name is Steve Peters. The psychiatrist is the latest addition to England's backroom staff as Roy Hodgson continues his preparations for the World Cup in Brazil.
Having already worked with the Liverpool squad, snooker champion Ronnie O'Sullivan and the GB cycling team, Dr Peters is well versed on the demands of top level professional sport and all the pressure it entails. "He has got a fantastic record, we are happy we have got the man we wanted," explained Hodgson. "He is someone who can understand the footballing environment rather than just lecturing to the players."
According to the BBC, Peters was a "key factor" in Britain's track cycling success at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics in which they won a total of 15 goal medals. In addition Peters has also helped Tour de France winners Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome deal with the mental side of their sport.
By agreeing to work with the England football team, however, Peters has surely taken on his most challenging sporting challenge to date, given that in recent decades the Three Lions have been synonymous with football failure.
"We have to make sure that all benefits that might help us win more matches and go further in the tournament are exploited," said Hodgson. "He will really come into his own when we are in the tournament and he has time to work with the players, rather than the day or two around friendlies."
England captain Steven Gerrard has worked with Peters in the past, notably in 2010 when the Liverpool midfielder was struggling to overcome a groin problem. "I saw him in a one-on-one situation and I liked his work and continued to see him. I feel he can help the players if the players buy into what he is trying to do," said Gerrard. "He can't help you do a Cruyff turn or a 40-yard pass better, but he can help you learn what goes off inside your head. If the players buy into what he says, it will help... I've played my most consistent form for Liverpool and England since seeing Steve."
One player that Peters may have to work with over the coming weeks and months is Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley, the subject of a online petition demanding he be banned from going to the World Cup. Cleverley hasn't commented on the puerile plea but Hodgson is not amused that more than 11,000 people have put their name to a document that accuses the 24-year-old of "inept" displays.
"It doesn't impress me," said Hodgson. "He's done an awful lot of good... I would like to think that I'm not going to have the England team selected in the future by petitions from various people who are holding it against one person for a team's lack of success.
Meanwhile England tonight host Denmark in what is their final friendly before Hodgson names his squad for June's World Cup. On Tuesday, Tottenham right-back Kyle Walker withdrew from the 30-man squad with a groin injury, the second defender to pull out after Everton's Phil Jagielka was ruled out last week with a hamstring problem. Walker's absence means Liverpool right back Glenn Johnson is set to earn his 50th cap while at the other end of the scale and on the opposite side of the pitch, Southampton defender Luke Shaw will almost certainly make his debut at left back, at the age of just 18.
One former Saint, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who came through the Southampton youth academy before joining Arsenal in 2011, believes Shaw deserves his debut. "He's been absolutely outstanding," said Oxlade-Chamberlain, who'll win his 14th cap tonight against Denmark. "As an 18-year-old his maturity that he's been playing with, and his consistency level, have been unbelievable."