England captain Steven Gerrard believes that the youngsters in the current World Cup squad will learn and improve as a result of this summer’s failings.

The Three Lions’ game against Costa Rica tonight is little more than a dead-rubber following their back-to-back defeats at the hands of Italy and Uruguay, which leave them pointless in Group D and heading out of the competition at the first phase for the first time since 1958.

In the build-up to the tournament manager Roy Hodgson elected to name a host of inexperienced players in his 23-man squad in an attempt to build ahead of EURO 2016 with hopes regarding England’s chances at their lowest for some time.

The likes of Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley both enjoyed minutes on the pitch, while teenager Luke Shaw also travelled.

Gerrard – who may well step down from international duty when the competition finishes – believes that the youngsters who have been involved will gain much despite the disappointment and that they will be better players in a couple of years’ time as a result:

“It’s a difficult one because the World Cup is a level where you don’t forget your experiences in two weeks, four weeks or a couple of months,” he told the London Evening Standard.

“The players have to accept that, cope with it, move forward and try to do everything they can in their power to make sure when they are picked for another tournament that their experiences are a lot better than the one we have just experienced.

“I do think the youngsters here have that character. I’ve already spoken about how talented they are. But what I have seen from the young lads is they all work hard, they all do the right things in and around training, and they want to stay at this level for a long time. That’s the optimism I have got now. It will be better in two years because of the standard of players we have here.”

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