England boot camp replicated penalty pressure, says Jermain Defoe

Jermain Defoe
Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe completes the 'sheep dip' - a tunnel of water several feet deep

England striker Jermain Defoe says the squad's visit to a Royal Marines boot camp could help the players cope with the emotion of penalty shootouts.

Defoe said having his team-mates watching him complete the 'sheep dip' was a "pressure moment".

"It's the sort of pressure when you're in a penalty shootout and the lads are waiting for you to step up," he said.

"Going forward it helps you, brings you closer together. You know you've got your team-mates who will help you."

England manager Gareth Southgate arranged the trip to a Commando Training Centre in Devon as part of their preparation for Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Scotland, and a friendly with France three days later.

Twenty England players were taken out of their comfort zones in the 48-hour boot camp designed for Marine recruits.

"It was the perfect thing to do if you want team-bonding," added Defoe, who is on the verge of joining Bournemouth from Sunderland after completing a medical.

"No phones, doing everything together, the whole experience was so unique, camping out with rations."

England
England returned to training at St George's Park on Tuesday following their trip

Goalkeeper Jack Butland said the camp was "one of the most rewarding experiences" he has ever had.

"I think as a squad and players we all benefited from that," he said. "There was a lot to learn, stuff that we're keen to take forward in what we're trying to achieve.

"We always want to achieve as well as we can do but if you keep preparing the same, you'll get the same results.

"I think that's something that Gareth lives by and it's important that we stretch ourselves."

Butland enjoying Hart rivalry

Meanwhile, Butland says his "healthy" rivalry with fellow England goalkeeper Joe Hart is a positive for the national side.

The Stoke keeper, 24, has returned to the squad after a year of injury problems which started on England duty in Germany last March.

Butland is one of four goalkeepers in the squad but first trained with Hart, who is likely to start against Scotland on Saturday, when the pair were at Birmingham City.

"I've known Joe a long time," he said. "We've always had a healthy relationship.

"I think that bodes really well when we come into squads. I'm keen to do as well as I can and in turn that pushes him and likewise pushes me back.

"It's really healthy and positive and it gets the best out of each other."

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