Former England midfielders Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are confident the Three Lions can go “all the way” at the World Cup in Qatar.
England begin their Group B campaign against Iran on Monday, looking to cast aside their poor recent form in the Nations League in a bid for their second World Cup triumph.
Gareth Southgate has led England to at least the final four in consecutive major tournaments – becoming the first manager to do so since Alf Ramsey in 1966 and 1968 – and Gerrard believes the team can build on their recent near misses in Qatar.
“I’m really optimistic. I’ve got a lot of belief and confidence in the boys, I’m sure they’re extremely excited at the moment,” Gerrard told Sky Sports.
“I’m looking forward to going on a journey with them, now that I’m a fan and an ex-player. I’ve experienced where they are right now and I’m really looking forward to, hopefully, a positive start to build belief.
“They were millimetres away from winning the Euros, to get to a World Cup semi-final is a positive performance.
“I think, collectively, they should have belief, they should have confidence and togetherness. They’re a real tight group with a fantastic manager, there’s a lot of talent.
“I think if we get the right bits of luck and the right breaks, and keep the majority of the squad healthy, I’m confident we can go all the way.”
Everton manager Lampard concurs with his former international team-mate, viewing England as one of the favourites to win the tournament.
“We’ve got a squad that has been building for a couple of years, they’ve had a couple of tournaments where they’ve had relative success and they’re getting stronger, in my opinion,” Lampard said.
“I think we can fairly put England as one of the favourites for the tournament, with the talent they have in the squad.
“I think it’ll be about momentum in the tournament itself, who gets through the group, who builds that confidence and momentum, and then that can take you all the way.”
England are the only European nation to have reached the semi-finals in each of the past two major tournaments.
However, since winning the World Cup on home soil in 1966, England have only progressed beyond the quarter-finals of the competition on two occasions – finishing fourth in 1990 and 2018.