DERBY County club captain Shaun Barker believes the development of England’s young players in Brazil could be crucial to the national team’s chances at future World Cups.
Roy Hodgson’s side get their 2014 World Cup campaign under way tomorrow against Italy in Manaus.
Barker hopes England’s emerging talent will be given a chance to shine – and gain valuable experience on football’s biggest stage.
“Not many people are very confident of England doing well,” said the defender, who is currently recovering from a serious knee injury.
“But I think we’ve got a fantastic young team coming through now.
“It would be nice to be able to use this tournament to plan for the next one in four years.
“France did it before they won the 1998 World Cup – dropping some of the senior players for younger ones – and Germany have done a similar thing in recent years.
“The quality young players coming through, like (Raheem) Sterling, (Ross) Barkley, (Daniel) Sturridge and (Luke) Shaw, have made names for themselves this season.
“I think they need to be playing, to gain experience at this level.
“It would benefit them and I think it would benefit England in the future.”
England also face Uruguay and Costa Rica as they aim to reach the knockout stages – and Barker is hoping they can get the country buzzing.
“I just want England to get as far as they can and I hope the nation gets behind them, because when they’re doing well, it’s great to see,” he said.
“Whether you support Derby County, Nottingham Forest, Burton Albion or Manchester United, you’re all rooting for the same team and the players you probably despise during most of the season!
“Everyone is united, so fingers crossed England can do well.
“Getting through the group stage is always tough.
“Looking at the teams England have to face, every single one could be a threat.
“To get to the World Cup is hard enough and once you’re there, you have to perform in every game.
“You are coming up against top nations and it comes down to consistency and the ability to rise to the occasion.”
Barker believes hosts Brazil are one of several teams capable of lifting the trophy.
“There’s always pressure on the home nation but often that can provide them with quite a boost,” he said.
“Brazil are always an attractive side to watch and they’ve got some top players.
“But I think there are a handful of teams who have half a chance.”