Not the finished article
England must keep on improving and have plenty of work to do if they are to make next summer's World Cup in Brazil, says Ray Wilkins
Last Updated: 30/05/13 3:13pm
That's the view of former Three Lions midfielder Ray Wilkins after he watched Roy Hodgson's charges draw 1-1 with their Irish counterparts at Wembley on Wednesday night.
Wilkins, who amassed 83 international caps, told Sky Sports News that England looked the stronger side after Frank Lampard had scored his 29th international goal and cancelled out Shane Long's opener.
But he says Hodgson's team, who sit two points behind Group H leaders Montenegro with four World Cup qualifying games remaining, must still work hard to capture a spot in next summer's showpiece event in Brazil.
"Roy will be happy with the second-half performance because England controlled the game in that period and could have won it," said Wilkins. "But in the first half, when it was a bit hare 'em, scare 'em, Ireland put a lot of pressure on.
"England have the tasty friendly game with Brazil on Sunday and then the clash with Scotland [in August], but the World Cup qualifiers are the important games, and Ukraine away will not be an easy game at all, even though they are a nation in transition at the moment.
"We know Montenegro can give us a tough game and Poland, too, so nothing is secure at the moment so England have to keep on developing because they are nowhere near the finished article and they know that."
On Lampard, whose strike against Ireland took him just one shy of Alan Shearer, Nat Lofthouse and Sir Tom Finney's 30 England goals and equal ninth on the all-time list of Three Lions scorers, Wilkins added: "The man is a phenomenon.
"Frank has this knack of turning up at exactly the right time; his veins go cold in front of goal and he finishes like a centre-forward, not a midfielder."
Ex-Ireland international Pat Bonner watched the Wembley encounter with Wilkins in the Sky Sports News studio and was impressed by his nation's display, which extended their unbeaten run to four matches.
And the onetime goalkeeper, who played 80 times for Ireland, hopes Giovanni Trapattoni's outfit can use the result as a boost ahead of their World Cup qualifying duel with the Faroe Islands on Friday week.
"You can criticise Trapattoni all you want but he is capable of getting results," said Bonner, whose country lie fourth in Group C but are level on points with second-placed Austria and third-place Sweden.
"This was a great result because Wembley is a tough place to go and England have lots of quality players, while we also drew away in Sweden and nearly beat Austria.
"If Ireland can get another result against the Faroe Islands they are right back in the qualification hunt - but our biggest problems always come when we are favourites, as we will be against the Faroes.
"When we are the underdogs we pull off results and when we have expectation we struggle - but we have momentum now."
Catch Ireland's next friendly, against Georgia, live from 5pm, Sunday, Sky Sports 2 HD.