Xabi Alonso believes that Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick could be a key figure behind Fabio Capello's rebuilding process with the England team.
Alonso spent five years plying his trade in the Premier League with Liverpool, winning the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup, before securing a lucrative move to La Liga giants Real Madrid last August.
The 28-year-old admits that he cannot quite put his finger on why England so dismally failed to make any impact at the World Cup in South Africa after the Three Lions were humbled 4-1 by Germany in the second round.
But he believes that Carrick could be the answer to getting the best of out his former team-mate, Steven Gerrard.
He told The Sunday Times: "Gerrard is a great player. He inspires and leads, he is very strong and is capable of making players around him raise their game, but he also needs players alongside to bring the best out of him.
"England missed a player like Carrick in the midfield, somebody who knows how to be in the right place at the right time.
"Gerrard gains a lot from having a player like Carrick as a partner, somebody who provides the back-up he needs to be free and bring his power to bear decisively in a game."
Carrick has continued to be overlooked by national coach Fabio Capello. The 28-year-old's last start came in the 3-1 warm-up friendly win against Mexico, but he failed to make an appearance in South Africa.
Alonso believes that there needs to be a change in emphasis regarding the national team, intimating that Capello needs to concentrate more on gelling a 'blend of styles together' in the England team.
"For me, it is important to have players who complement one another. Sometimes the 11 best do not make the best 11," he said.
"The way I understand the game, you also need someone who delivers simple, short passes, even if they seem innocuous at the time. For me that is the sort of player that's been missing from the side.
"The profile of the English player is very direct. Direct football is great but you have to know how to combine that with an understanding of the need to associate with other players, with knowing how to pass and pass and keep the ball, how to change the rhythm of a game as circumstances demand."