Jordan Henderson says England’s aim is to become the number one team in world football and challenge to win a World Cup.
Gareth Southgate’s side sit top of Group F and are on course to qualify for Russia 2018 ahead of upcoming matches against Malta and Slovakia.
England have made a habit of producing strong qualifying campaigns before falling flat when it comes to major tournament finals, having failed to progress beyond the quarter-final stage of the World Cup or European Championship since 1996.
But Henderson insists they are ready to improve on that record in the coming years.
“As a team, that is what we want to achieve: to get to the World Cup, first and foremost, and then when we get there we want to do well,” said the Liverpool captain. “We will definitely think about it but at the end of the day, you have got to do the business in the next few games that we play to qualify.
“We have spoken together as a squad and the target is to be the number one team in the world, however long it takes, we don’t know. It is down to us as a team how far we want to go and how far we want to push ourselves.
“Hopefully we can do that sooner rather than later. I know it is going to take time, but I feel as though we have a great set of lads, a great set of players, a lot of talent, a lot of hard work goes into it.
“At the same time, we have not performed in the last few tournaments I have been to, definitely, and a lot more before that. We need to change something.
“First and foremost, we have to get there and make sure we are there. Then the mentality has to change and we need to go and be better than we have been. Obviously, we know the Euros was not good enough and the World Cup was disappointing. It is a big challenge but one I feel we are ready for.”
The 27-year-old is one of the candidates to take over as captain following the retirement of Wayne Rooney, having worn the armband in matches against Slovenia and Spain last term.
Henderson would relish the chance to be named Rooney’s permanent successor but accepts there is competition from the likes of Harry Kane, Joe Hart and Gary Cahill.
“It’s a massive honour,” he said. “When Gareth gave me the opportunity to captain for the first time, in November, it was a huge honour for me and looking at Harry when he captained the squad, it was a huge honour for him.
“Joe has done it, Gary has done it. There’s a lot of lads in the team that have done it and that can do it so, like I say, it’s totally down to the manager and what he feels is right for him and the team.”
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