World Cup 2014: England should look to youth - Alan Shearer

BBC pundit and former England captain Alan Shearer

The fact England are already out of this World Cup is hard to take, but manager Roy Hodgson must carry on the job he has started and keep on promoting his young players, starting against Costa Rica on Tuesday.

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Shearer wants England to keep Hodgson

Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain need their opportunity at this tournament to help them keep progressing.

Hodgson cannot make sweeping changes to his side in Belo Horizonte - he will need some balance between youth and experience.

This is still a game he will want to win, although I have to say I am not confident England will beat Costa Rica whatever team he puts out.

But, whatever his outlook, I would play Barkley from the start this time because, when he has come on as a substitute against Italy and Uruguay, he has created chances and got on the ball in dangerous positions.

Euro 2016 the next target

We have to see where the likes of Barkley, Shaw and Oxlade-Chamberlain can take us, as well as Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge, who have already been given opportunities at this tournament.

It would be great to have given them more experience of this World Cup to get an understanding of tournament football but sadly, beyond the Costa Rica game against a team already into the last 16, it is not going to happen now.

Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling
Will Roy Hodgson field youngsters Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling against Costa Rica?

But Hodgson has already done what people asked by introducing youth to his squad.

His target now is to bring that group through over the next two years to get us to the 2016 European Championship. He deserves the chance to do that, and we have to hope they keep on improving.

What I also want to see in England's final game in Group D is an improvement defensively, because that has been the most disappointing thing about their World Cup.

Costa Rica were very good against Uruguay and Italy, and because of the way England have played in their first two games, I would not be confident at all that we will keep a clean sheet.

Defensive dopes

When I was playing under Sir Bobby Robson at Newcastle United, he always used to say to us that, when we had a corner, have a look around because there is always one dope.

What he meant by that was that there is always one defender who switches off. Now, if that happens at any level, you are going to get punished, but especially so at the World Cup because all the players are so alert and looking for that dope.

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BBC pundits say England need to move forward after World Cup exit

It's harsh, but England's defenders have been the dopes - against Italy, and against Uruguay too.

There has to be something wrong with the players mentally when they have been done like that again and again.

I always thought our Achilles heel would be our defence because we do not have enough quality defenders to really compete at this level, but we are not learning - if anything, we are getting worse.

Uruguay's second goal was basic, schoolboy stuff. It was similar to the one we conceded against Germany in the 2010 World Cup - a long punt upfield and they went straight through the middle.

It was defending you would not see on Sunday morning by a pub team. That should not even happen once at this level, but it should never ever happen twice at a World Cup.

Just not good enough

There has been no great debate about who else Hodgson could have brought to Brazil to strengthen our defence or any other part of the team.

John Terry has retired, while Ashley Cole was a talking point but, even if Cole was in the squad, like most people I would have started with Leighton Baines in the Italy game.

The fact is, we do not have great depth to our squad and we are lacking in quality.

The players who play so well week-in, week-out in the Premier League have not played to the same level in Brazil.

Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson have not performed in midfield, our back four have let us down in both games and, when we have created chances, we have not been able to take a lot of them.

England dejected after Uruguay defeat

That is why I would not press the panic button and get rid of Hodgson. The new manager coming in would have the same problems as him in that he has the same players out there, and I don't think anyone else would do much different.

We can look for as many excuses as we want but the bottom line is that we are just not good enough, regardless of who is in charge.

Who has qualified for the last 16?
Netherlands (Group B)
Chile (Group B)
Colombia (Group C)
Costa Rica (Group D)
Argentina (Group F)
Who is out of the World Cup?
Cameroon (Group A)
Australia (Group B)
Spain (Group B)
England (Group D)

Alan Shearer was talking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan in Rio.

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