Glenn Hoddle says England should forget about winning the 2014 World Cup but thinks success is not very far away.
The ex-England boss is on a Football Association commission looking at ways of improving the nation's fortunes.
"It is unrealistic for England to think they can go and win the World Cup in Brazil," Hoddle told BBC Sport.
"Let's first qualify, then get the youngsters experiencing a tournament in Brazil so that in two years' time we can have a real go at the Euros."
FA chairman Greg Dyke has also written off England's chances of winning in Brazil next year and has targeted success in the 2022 World Cup.
But Hoddle told BBC Sport's Ben Smith: "I know Greg has said he wants England to win in 2022, but I think we can bring that forward.
"I would hope to say we could expect to get some success a little bit earlier than that."
The former England and Tottenham midfielder thinks youngsters Ross Barkley, 19, and Jack Wilshere, 21, can help propel England to future success.
But Hoddle says they need to be given the opportunity to play regular international football first, starting with next year's World Cup.
England will book their place in Brazil if they win their final two qualifying games against Montenegro on Friday and then Poland next Tuesday.
Roy Hodgson's side currently sit top of Group H, after picking 16 points from eight matches, one point ahead of Ukraine and Montenegro.
"I do believe we will be there, but it is about the experience that the likes of the Barkleys, the Wilsheres can get under their belt so that we can have a real onslaught at the Euros," said Hoddle, who was England boss from 1996 to 1999.
The 55-year-old thinks the chances of England or any European side winning in Brazil next year are slim.
"No European team has ever won a World Cup in South America," he said.
"Spain have Europe's best chance, but even then they probably only have a 35% chance. England have got a lesser chance than that. I don't want to put a percentage on that."
Hoddle has been joined on the FA commission by Danny Mills, Howard Wilkinson and Dario Gradi.
The former England and Tottenham midfielder believes he can make a positive contribution.
"I really have got some exciting ideas that I want to run across this commission and I hope people will get on board with it," he said.
"It is something close to my heart, close to my heart for many years."
Hoddle admits the number of foreigners in the Premier League is a hindrance and thinks England has a lot of work to do to catch up with other nations.
Responding to BBC Sport's State of the Game survey, which has revealed that playing time for English players in the Premier League has dropped to just 31.8%, he feared the situation could get "worse and worse" if no action was taken.
"We have got to produce better players so they become as good as the Spanish kids, they become as good as the French and the South Americans," he said.
"We will always create exciting players, like your Ferdinands, your Owens and your Beckhams, but we need 15 of these players every two years coming through.
"That's what the Spanish have done, that's where the French have done, so we've got a lot of things to change if we are going to catch up. We've been stuck for a very long time."
Hoddle also praised Dyke's leadership after meeting the FA chairman and giving him "a vision of how we could improve things".
Hoddle, who spoke with Dyke "a couple of months back", added: "I am particularly impressed that Greg wants to change things.
"He's very successful in what he's done as a businessman and has a different outlook to some of his predecessors."