Shearer: England still 2010 World Cup contenders

Former England captain Alan Shearer believes England could still be World Cup contenders despite Fabio Capello’s team being given a reality check by Euro 2008 winners Spain.

A swashbuckling Spanish side tamed the Three Lions on Wednesday night in Seville with goals from David Villa and Fernando Llorente inflicting only Capello's second defeat as England coach, the last coming almost a year ago against France.

And Shearer, who captained England 34 times, believes the defeat has given the team a timely reminder that they still have a long way to go before they can compete with the world’s elite.

“The result against Spain puts everyone back on an even keel," he exclusively told "Things have been going great for England and everyone is excited, and rightly so. But we played the European Champions and they showed us what level we have to be at if we want to compete in a major championship.”

However, the Euro 96 Golden boot winner does believe Capello’s men have the potential to lift the World Cup at South Africa in 2010.

“England need to carry on as they are going," he said. "The Spain result apart, things have been very good and positive, and everyone seems to be working together and getting the right results.

“We need to keep believing in ourselves and hopefully in 18 months time we’ll be a better side and we can go to the World Cup and challenge.”

Wednesday’s loss may have been only England's first defeat in nine games, but it did highlight the gulf in class between the two sides, with the visitors chasing shadows for long periods at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.

And Shearer, who was part of the England team that beat Spain in the Euro 96 quarter-finals on penalties, couldn’t hide his admiration for Vicente del Bosque’s side.

“Spain showed us how good they were at keeping possession and passing the ball across the pitch,” he said. “They were the better team on Wednesday night and they’re going to be a force for years to come with all the young talented players they have.”

Alan Shearer is an ambassador for Castrol - FIFA World Cup 2010 tournament sponsors.

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