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Saturday, 22 June, 2002, 07:36 GMT 08:36 UK
Butcher: England's bright future
Terry Butcher

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England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson will see a bright future once the gloom of the World Cup quarter-final defeat against Brazil has subsided.

It is tough at the moment, recovering from losing to Brazil when we all thought this was England's best chance of victory.

But if we look ahead, we can see that the chance is still there for England to become a real force in the European Championships in 2004 and the World Cup in Germany two years later.

The bulk of what is a very promising England team will still be together, and they will have the benefit of a group of promising youngsters who are coming through with the under-21 team.

I also think, when we look back on the World Cup, England did extraordinarily well to get as far as they did.

Rio Ferdinand was fantastic. He was our best player and it will be re-assuring for Eriksson to know he will be at the heart of England's defence for years to come.

I felt Danny Mills did well and answered a few of his critics, and other good youngsters were able to taste the unique pressure of the World Cup, which means both they and England will be all the better for that.

We already have good young players like Michael Owen, and hopefully Steven Gerrard's injury problems are over now.

Throw in lads like Darius Vassell, Wayne Bridge, Joe Cole and Owen Hargreaves - who will all return from Japan as better footballers and wiser in the ways of the game at the top level - and you see why England should have every cause for optimism.

Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand was England's star defender
Eriksson has also fostered tremendous spirit in the squad, which will be helped by the fact they have sampled the huge pressures of the World Cup and proved they can handle it.

England have had a good World Cup, despite losing to Brazil. There is no shame in that and they may well have lost to the eventual winners.

It is now a question of learing the lessons of Japan and moving forward. The World Cup is over - but the signs for the future for England are good.


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GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1

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