Joe Cole: England can win 2014 World Cup in Brazil

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Youthful England 'excite' Joe Cole

West Ham midfielder Joe Cole believes England can win the World Cup next year with a team that "excites" him.

Cole, 31, has 56 England caps and says he has not given up hope of being in Roy Hodgson's 23-man squad for Brazil.

"I'm thinking England can go there and win it," Cole told BBC Sport.

"I know the gaffer will want to play things down and rightly so, but it excites me because I think there is enough talent in the country."

Former Chelsea and Liverpool player Cole has played in the last three World Cups and was part of a so-called "golden generation" which also included current skipper Steven Gerrard, Chelsea's Frank Lampard and former Manchester United midfielders David Beckham and Paul Scholes.

But that team could not go beyond the quarter-finals, and Cole thinks the current crop will be free from the burden of expectation.

He added: "Andros Townsend gets you off your feet and Daniel Sturridge is as good as any centre forward in the country at the moment, so there is no reason not to be positive.

"I look to the emergence of those two, Raheem Sterling, Ravel Morrison and Ross Barkley. These kids are top, top players and they will go there with no baggage of expectations."

England failed to make it past the second round of the last World Cup in 2010, and reached the quarter-finals in 2002 and 2006.

Hodgson's side go into next year's tournament unseeded, having dropped to 17th in the Fifa world rankings earlier this year - their lowest standing for 12 years. They have since recovered to 10th.

Cole, who last played for England when they lost 4-1 to Germany in second round of the 2010 World Cup, scored on the opening day of the Premier League season against Cardiff and could return to West Ham's starting line-up to face Manchester City on Saturday after a hamstring injury.

He said of his own chances of going to Brazil: "I had a good start to the season but unfortunately injury struck again, but if I can keep myself fit, I still have plenty of confidence in my ability. But first things first, I just need to be playing regularly and playing well.

"Playing in a Brazil World Cup would be the ultimate for any footballer. There would be nowhere else in the world you would want to be. It would be the pinnacle."

Reaching the World Cup has come at a time when the Football Association has set up a commission to improve the performance of England teams and assess whether the Premier League hinders their progress.

Memorable England World Cup goals

Only 31% of players in the top flight are English compared to 72% when the Premier League was formed in 1992, while playing time for English under-21s has dropped to a new low.

Solutions have ranged from issuing quotas for foreign players to the re-introduction of a national academy. But the Premier League has invested £320m into its Elite Player Performance Plan, which has graded academies across the country.

Cole, who was a graduate of the previous national academy at Lilleshall, which closed in 1999, said he would like to see something similar again.

And having experienced football in France with Lille last season, he believes English football does not value the coaching of youngsters.

He said: "Lilleshall was starting to bear fruit towards the end of its time. The likes of Wes Brown, Michael Owen, Scott Parker, Francis Jeffers, myself; there were regular players who came through and played at the top level.

"It was like the Barcelona academy, they go and hoover up the best talent around Spain and put them all in the same place and they all bounce off each other.

"I was basically a professional from 14 years old and I think it helped me become the player that I am."

Cole joined the West Ham academy before making his first-team debut aged 17. He added: "The biggest issue for me is that the coaching of under-8s to under-12s is still seen as a stepping stone.

"I wouldn't imagine it's a massively paid job. I think in other countries, just from what I know, it is seen as a well-paid profession because you're developing them at the stage where they are most able to take in information."