Skipper Steven Gerrard admits he is beginning his last FIFA World Cup™ campaign, but believes England are not far away from finally delivering success at a major tournament.
Gerrard says there are lessons to be learned from UEFA EURO 2012, when England's interest in the competition ended with the quarter-final penalty shoot-out against Italy. But the Liverpool midfielder is confident the mixture of young talent and experience in the camp means England can look forward with confidence ahead of the opening qualifier in Moldova tomorrow evening and the home clash with Ukraine on Tuesday.
"You don't totally get something like EURO 2012 out of your system. It's what you have to live with, disappointments in football," said Gerrard. "It's about highs and lows and you are on the back of a low going out of the tournament on a penalty shoot-out.
"You can't wait for the next important game to come along and thankfully that is here now and to help ease those feelings of disappointment from the summer, six points would be very nice," he added. "You've got to turn the negatives into a positive. You don't win every game for club and country, you've got to handle setbacks and react to them.
"There are numerous things that the team and the squad need to look at from the summer. There were a lot of positives but negatives as well," Gerrard added. "With Roy in charge and the staff, they will be showing us those pros and cons from the summer and we will try and work on where we went wrong."
There are numerous things that the team and the squad need to look at from the summer.
England have only lost one qualifier in the last 18 and Gerrard said: "That record is very impressive and it shows we are not as far away as some people think we are. Of course, we've lost on penalties to Italy and they were slightly the better team over 120 minutes, but I don't think the margin between us and the big teams is as big as some people think.
"We believe if we keep learning and improving and don't make the mistakes of the summer, then sooner rather than later we can get a big result against one of these big nations which will be the difference between an unsuccessful and successful tournament," he said.
Gerrard is determined to go out on a high in terms of FIFA World Cup campaigns. "If you are not excited being captain of your country, going into a World Cup campaign with Brazil at the end of it, you are in the wrong game," he said. "I'm excited, I've got a lot of confidence in my team-mates that we can qualify and then you've got the chance to have a successful tournament.
"It is an exciting time, we've got young players coming through, we've got a good blend of youth and experience, with still your Lampards and Terrys about. I think the future is bright," he said. "Hopefully I am still in the team in two years' time when Brazil is around and we can have another good go at it."
One player Gerrard is glad to see back in the England fold is fellow midfielder Michael Carrick, who will play his first meaningful qualifier for six years if selected against Moldova. His only other qualifier since then was against Ukraine in 2009 but it was a dead rubber with England already qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals.
Gerrard said: "I thought Michael did fantastically well in the last friendly. Michael is a quality player and he shows that week in and week out at Manchester United. I've played with him at a few England levels so I know him quite well. It is great to have him back available. He certainly makes the team and the squad stronger."
Gerrard believes England will be ready to cope if Moldova opt to pack their defence and attempt to frustrate them. "It can be difficult but the good thing with our squad is we have got players used to that in the Premier League," he said. "We play for top teams and you come up against a lot of sides that put 11 men behind the ball and try and make it difficult. If you are patient and don't force the issue, it doesn't matter when we score."