Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw Stake a Claim for England Berths in Costa Rica Draw

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2014

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England will leave Brazil without a win to their name after a goalless draw against Costa Rica in their final group game of the World Cup.

The result also means they finish bottom of Group D, rounding off what has been a disappointing summer where results are concerned.

Indeed, with Italy's 1-0 loss to Uruguay subjecting them to the same fate as England, the group has an upside down feel to it from what many predicted, with the two European sides going home early from the competition.

There is plenty for coach Roy Hodgson to consider ahead of his next competitive match in charge, an away trip against Switzerland in September.

Top of his list will be tactics and personnel, with his much-changed line-up against Costa Rica throwing up more debate.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Call it overly optimistic, deluded even, but England's draw still brought with it the positives we have seen in the defeats against Uruguay and Italy.

From being a team playing on the back foot, England have transformed themselves into a side capable of taking games to their opponents and attacking with verve.

In Brazil, it's a transformation that has actually proved a negative, with this being the Three Lions' worst-ever showing at a World Cup.

But in the long term, England appear to be going in the right direction. They are far from the finished article, of course, yet the direction they are trying to take cannot be ignored.

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 24: Cristian Gamboa of Costa Rica challenges Luke Shaw of England during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Costa Rica and England at Estadio Mineirao on June 24, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by R
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In those early games of this World Cup, it was Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck grabbing headlines.

Now Luke Shaw and Ross Barkley will be the focus for many.

Shaw is just 18 years old, while Barkley is 20. Despite their youth, though, they were England's best players against Costa Rica.

Ashley Cole was a surprise omission from England's World Cup squad, with Shaw preferred as back-up to Leighton Baines at left-back.

Hodgson should perhaps rethink that order with England, however, as Shaw has shown himself more than capable of being his country's first choice.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

The youngster didn't look out of place in Belo Horizonte, putting in an accomplished display that probably had the Southampton hierarchy rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of his asking price increasing further.

It came in a dead rubber match, given Costa Rica had already qualified for the last 16, but Shaw's display outshone what we have seen from Baines in Brazil.

Whereas Baines looked overawed against Italy and Uruguay, off the pace at the times and a weak link, Shaw was the opposite during his World Cup debut.

It was similar for Barkley, who kept England on the front foot in attack, driving forward to carve out opportunities in a game wherehad Sturridge made the most of his opportunitiesthe Three Lions may well have won at a canter, regaining some much-needed pride in the process.

It was the Barkley we saw for much of 2013-14 in an Everton shirt, playing without fear and a desire to win football matches.

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And that's where England fans can take hope from this World Cup.

As one fan put it in the aftermath of the Costa Rica draw, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are England's yesterday men. This World Cup has shown us that and the future is about a whole lot more.

What we've seen in England's three games in Brazil is the future of this team begin to pick itself.

Sturridge, Sterling and Welbeck are going to be a big part of it, and on the back of their Costa Rica display, Shaw and Barkley have staked a claim for a place in Hodgson's starting XI come Switzerland.

"It’s not purely planning for the future," Hodgson said ahead of the Costa Rica game, per The Telegraph.

That may have been the case, but whether it was his intention or not, the future is staring Hodgson in the face. And it looks bright.