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Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer is the Premier League's all-time top scorer with 260 goals and a leading TV pundit from the BBC's flagship football programme Match of the Day. Euro '96 Golden Boot winner Alan will be sharing his thoughts on all things football every week throughout the 2016/17 season.

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Shearer Says: “It’s hard to judge where England are at”

Goalscoring great gives his Three Lions insight

Let’s start with the positive – England have made it to the World Cup finals! 

However, it’s hard to judge where the team is at the end of qualifying. 

Results-wise it has been decent but it was decent before we went to France for the Euros, and we all know what happened there, so it’s very difficult to make an assessment until we actually get to Russia.

The one difference from the past is our expectation levels have changed, but we have to see an improvement to what we saw in France last summer. 

Nobody realistically expects us to win it, so we just need to show some improvement, show we’re moving in the right direction.

We’re quite a way behind the likes of Germany, France and Spain at the moment, I don’t think there’s any way that we can compete with the big boys at the World Cup.

I don’t think anybody expects us to, do they? Which is not a bad thing, we are where we are and we have to accept that.

There’s more than one problem

The current failings are down to a combination of factors. We haven’t got enough English players playing in our teams in the Premier League, that’s one problem. 

Another is that we’ve been starved of success for such a long time now that it is becoming harder and harder for every generation.

My era were expected to deliver and we didn’t. So the longer it goes on, the longer there’s no history of winning, the harder it is to have a winning mentality.

The players do have to show mental toughness, that they are better than what we’ve seen so far from them in an England shirt.

And they have to improve on what we’ve seen in the qualifiers because the qualifying performances haven’t been good enough either.

The results might have been good but the performances haven’t been good enough.

There are plenty of spots up for grabs

Other than Harry Kane and Dele Alli, I can’t think of any other players who are automatic choices at the minute, and even Dele Alli needs to improve his goalscoring record. 

All the others are playing for their spot in the side, so that means the door is open for someone currently out of the squad.

However, another problem England have had for a while now is the tendency, because of the lack of numbers, to pick injury prone players based on past form. 

So right now, for example, Jack Wilshere is not the answer.

If he plays every game between now and the World Cup and he’s very good for Arsenal then we can ask that question but at the minute he has to get back to actually playing regularly.