England may have an inexperienced squad but that is no problem ahead of the World Cup, according to Rio Ferdinand.
England also have fewer caps in total in the squad than any other team in Russia.
Rio Ferdinand believes England’s lack of experience won’t be a problem in Russia
Ferdinand was part of the 1998 World Cup squad – although he did not play a minute – and went to the 2002 World Cup as one of the first choice defenders at just 23.
The former Manchester United man had experience playing in the Champions League with Leeds.
Yet he feels his own path to the England squad was comparable with another vaunted young defender hoping to make a mark in Russia.
Asked about the squad, he told Sportsmail: ‘What I like about them is the youth. I remember when I first (truly) went into a tournament, I was probably in a similar situation to probably John Stones, maybe just a little bit ahead.
‘I’d played Champions League football. None of them have captained a team yet so I was probably a little bit ahead, but I understand where they’re at. They’re not at their absolute best yet, but they have potential.
Ferdinand says he was in a similar situation to John Stones before starring in 2002
Manager Gareth Southgate has selected the second youngest squad at the tournament
‘I was potential when I went to the 2002 World Cup to play. I was at Leeds at the time, and it was similar to these players.
‘They have to look at it as an opportunity to cement themselves in the team and become a mainstay in English football.
‘You can do that off the back of a tournament.’ Southgate has altered the team in a way few would have anticipated when he took charge.
He has overseen Wayne Rooney’s retirement from international football, cast aside former No 1 Joe Hart and dropped the likes of Jack Wilshere.
Ferdinand is not shocked that his former international team-mate has ended up in a prominent role.
Ferdinand wants England’s youngsters to look at the World Cup as an opportunity
Ferdinand is not shocked that his former team-mate Gareth Southgate is in management
‘I definitely thought he’d go into management’, Ferdinand continued.
‘He was a student of the game, very intelligent, played the game the right way. He was very professional and had a great manner about him.
‘I’m not surprised he got into the system at the FA and when he took the 21s job it was a natural progression. I think that’s the best way for a manager to come through.
‘It’s been done the right way. He has a great ability to work with, a good structure and great players to work with. If they can get past the quarters it would be a great achievement.’
Rio Ferdinand is currently an ambassador for the #CelebratewithPringles campaign this summer along with Daniel Sturridge.
The two footballers recently took to the streets of Manchester to get the public to show them their celebrations ahead of the extended football season.
Author: Nancy Parker
Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.