Former England striker Alan Shearer has predicted England will be knocked out in the quarter-finals at the World Cup.
Gareth Southgate’s side reached the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and they lost to Italy in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley last summer.
England could meet France in the last eight if both nations win their respective groups and last-16 ties.
“I don’t see us going as far as we have done in the last two tournaments,” said Shearer.
“I think in terms of midfield positions and forward positions Southgate will be confident but in terms of defensively, that’s an area for concern,” he added, speaking at the launch of The Athletic’s Emergency Football Hotline.
“We should win the group with the ability that we have in our squad. The further you go in the tournament the better the opposition are going to be and the players you’re up against, so my concern for England would be defence.”
Southgate will name his final 26-man squad for Qatar on Thursday, with the tournament beginning on Sunday, 20 November.
England’s first game is against Iran on Monday, 21 November (kick-off 13:00 GMT)
Injured Chelsea defender Reece James said he is “devastated” to not be included in the squad – and several other key decisions remain for the England boss.
On Southgate’s squad announcement, Shearer said: “I think he’s got some big decisions to make in terms of the 11 he starts and what system he’s going to play.
“It’s probably been made slightly easier for him now he can have a squad of 26 rather than 23. We have got one or two injuries which he has to make a call on because maybe two or three players haven’t played for six or seven weeks.
“With the success that they have had in the last two tournaments we want England to go that one step further and try and win it. Whether we can or not remains to be seen. It’s going to be very, very difficult.”
Pushed on a prediction for how far England will go, he added: “I’d say maybe a quarter-final.”
Should England win Group B – which also contains Iran, Wales and the USA – they would meet the runner-up in Group A, which features the Netherlands, Senegal, Ecuador and hosts Qatar. If they finish second, they would meet the winner of that group.
Beyond that, Southgate’s side could meet France in the quarter-finals, with a meeting with Belgium, Spain or Portugal possible in the last four.