Michael Carrick is happy to see England players enjoying themselves under Gareth Southgate after experiencing his own international frustrations.
The 37-year-old was part of the 2006 and 2010 World Cup squads, but freely admits in his autobiography ‘Between the Lines’ that his Three Lions experience was not what he hoped it would be.
Carrick did not always enjoy representing his country, so the former midfielder was delighted to see enthusiasm and excitement injected back into the national team during their summer run to the semis.
“It’s quite refreshing to see the enjoyment back, really – from the players, from the country in general,” Carrick said.
“That’s what you are craving at a World Cup. That’s what it should be like.
“Unfortunately, some of the experiences I’ve had it wasn’t like that – and that was from me, from the squad, from the media, from the country.
“It kind of all blew up, really! Which is so sad to say, but that’s kind of how it was.
“But this time it was a different feeling, there was a freshness and a freedom about it and an enjoyment.
“And credit to Gareth for that because he has kind of manipulated that and guided the lads and created this environment, where they seem to have been able to shine and flourish.
“In some ways he has made a rod for his own back by getting to the semi-finals because now unless you’re absolutely flying then it’s never going to be good enough!
“But I am sure that they’ve got players and I am sure as a manager he’ll be successful in the years to come.”
England midfielder Eric Dier believes the stream of young players coming into the international fold is helping to keep the more established names on their toes.
The Three Lions played out a goalless draw in their Nations League meeting with Croatia in Rijeka on Friday night in a match which took place behind closed doors.
Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho came off the bench in the closing stages to make his England debut – the first man to do so who was born this millennium.
Meanwhile 21-year-old left-back Ben Chilwell made his first start and fellow youngsters Mason Mount and James Maddison were on the bench.
A youthful England side created the better chances in the game on the Adriatic coast, with Dier and Tottenham team-mate Harry Kane hitting the woodwork and Marcus Rashford spurning two marvellous chances.
Dier was pleased to see yet another batch of precocious talent come into the squad and feels that it motivates the more senior players to keep improving.
“I feel like the performance was really positive on the whole,” he said.
“Obviously there are a lot of young players in the squad looking to get their chance and keeping everyone on their toes.
“Jadon Sancho, when he came on, I think he was really positive and had a really positive impact, was brave and took people on and that is what you want from young players.”
Gabriel Jesus and Alex Sandro scored late on in each half as Brazil won 2-0 against Saudi Arabia in a friendly international.
The hosts finished the game with 10 men after goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais was sent off, following a consultation with the video assistant referee, for handling the ball outside his penalty area.
Brazil began with Philippe Coutinho, Jesus and Neymar in a three-pronged attack but it took them until the half hour mark to really trouble their hosts, with Al-Owais making a fine acrobatic save to palm Jesus’ header over the crossbar.
The Manchester City striker was not to be denied, however, and he opened the scoring after 44 minutes when he raced onto Neymar’s through ball and found the back of the net.
Jesus was one of six Premier League players to feature for Brazil, with City team-mate Ederson, Liverpool defender Fabinho and Manchester United midfielder Fred also starting, with Fred being replaced by Tottenham’s Lucas Moura at half-time.
Everton’s Richarlison made only his third international appearance when he replaced Jesus with 18 minutes remaining.
Moura should have doubled the lead shortly after his introduction but he shot straight at Al-Owais after being set up by Neymar, who saw a 25-yard effort hit the post in the 55th minute.
Al-Owais’ ruined a decent individual performance five minutes from time when he was sent off following a VAR review for handling Richarlison’s shot outside the box.
Sandro made sure of the win for Brazil deep into injury time by heading in Neymar’s corner.
The match in Riyadh was the first of two games in Saudi Arabia for Brazil as they take on rivals Argentina on Tuesday in Jeddah.