World Cup 2014: England youth can surprise - Robbie Fowler

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling made his England debut against Sweden in 2012

England's fearless youngsters can cause a surprise at the World Cup, says former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler.

Reds forwards Daniel Sturridge, 24, and Raheem Sterling, 19, are among those aiming to start in England's opener against Italy on Saturday.

"When you have younger players, they hold no fear," Fowler told BBC Sport.

"I'm confident England can get out of the group and once you do that your confidence grows. I can see England doing very, very well."

England boss Roy Hodgson has urged caution about his youthful 23-man squad, 17 of whom are making their World Cup debuts.

But he has admitted: "We have more pace, more mobility, a lot of technical players. I'm not trying to play down the fact that the future looks quite bright and there are interesting times ahead."

In addition to Sturridge and Sterling, Hodgson has selected Everton's Ross Barkley and Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, both 20, and Southampton left-back Luke Shaw, 19.

Former England striker Fowler added: "You have the likes of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard who will help them.

"The experienced lads will maybe do everything quite steady and safe whereas the younger lads can express themselves that little bit more."

Fowler, who has recently been studying for his coaching badges at St George's Park, the Football Association's national football centre, believes England have been rewarded after Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers used an English core during a season that saw the Reds finish as Premier League runners-up.

In addition to Sturridge and Sterling, Gerrard, Glen Johnson and Jordan Henderson all made Hodgson's World Cup party with full-back Jon Flanagan, 21, one of seven standbys.

"The Liverpool players can be fantastic at the World Cup," Fowler added. "They have played well all season, and if you can go into the World Cup and you are comfortable with your team-mates, that is a massive plus."

Fowler was among a group of former players and managers on their A Licence course who believe the make-up of Hodgson's squad is symptomatic of exciting new talent coming through the English system.

Last month, England won their second European under-17 Championship in four years.

The FA recently set up a commission charged with improving the England team's fortunes, with FA chairman Greg Dyke questioning the number of foreign players in the top flight and the lack of opportunities for home-grown youngsters as a result.

But former Queens Park Rangers forward Paul Furlong, who watched Sterling train before he moved from west London to join Liverpool, said: "There is change in the English game. We have a lot of attacking players with flair like Sterling and Sturridge."

Sheffield United boss Nigel Clough added: "All the other European countries that have developed have had a long-term plan.

"It's not just three or four years, it's 10 years or more for it to really have an effect. So places like St Georges Park will see the benefits and although I hope the the young squad do well at the World Cup, even if we don't, we are going to get the benefit in future generations."