Former Liverpool and Real Madrid striker Michael Owen has shared his concerns regarding the future prospects of the England national team.
Roy Hodgson’s side are currently locked in an intense battle for 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification, with four crucial games remaining in their UEFA Group H campaign.
Even should they get there, England remain an unlikely candidate for success in Brazil, having failed to progress beyond the last four of a major international tournament since winning the World Cup in 1966.
And Owen, who earned 89 international caps and scored 40 goals for his country in total, is far from confident in England talent reserves.
“England are not in a great position, although we still have some good players. I would have thought we will qualify for the World Cup,” he said.
“If we don’t get beaten in the Ukraine, we should be OK. But nobody thinks we are going to win the World Cup.
“People say we didn’t perform in Germany in 2006, but we did have a good team.
“You look at the team now and you cannot see us winning the World Cup. We haven’t got enough good players.
“Wayne Rooney is a world-class player. There is so much expectation on him in our national team because the dearth of quality is enormous. The pool of players you pick from is smaller because the world has changed.
“Nobody comes home from school, knocks on 10 doors and asks if they fancy a kickabout. I used to run home from school to get my ball.
“If you look to where the best young players are coming from, they tend to be from countries where football is seen as a way out, an escape.
“We will still produce players, but whether we have the pool of players we need is debatable.”
Owen also discussed the dangers of young players being held back by clubs and failing to progress to first-team football during a vital stage of their development.
“Footballers need help in certain situations,” he continued.
“You see 19, 20-year-olds at a big club and you think, ‘What are you doing faffing around?’ because you have wasted three years of your career.
“You should be in a first team by the time you are 18 or 19. It is a dangerous age. There is such wastage there.”
Owen announced his retirement from playing at the end of the 2012-13 campaign following a one-year stint with Stoke City.
The last of the 33-year-old’s appearances for England came in 2008, but he subsequently fell out of favour with then-manager Fabio Capello and failed to make a squad before announcing his retirement.