Youthful England can emulate Germany - Lahm

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The World Cup winner has backed Gareth Southgate's side to build on their World Cup semi-final exit - just as his own national team did

England’s semi-final defeat by Croatia at the World Cup in the summer can lay the foundations for future success, according to former Germany captain Philipp Lahm.

Gareth Southgate's young England battled their way to the last four of a World Cup for the first time since 1990, before bowing out 2-1 in extra-time to eventual runners-up Croatia. 

Lahm compared the Three Lions' experience in Russia to that of his own Germany side, who finished third at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups with young players before lifting the historic trophy in 2014.

The ex-Bayern Munich skipper also praised the camaraderie evident within the England squad, citing it as a key factor in international tournament success.

“What I saw on the pitch was a good, functioning team. I believed they had a good chance because they had a young and talented team,” said Lahm, in quotes reported by Reuters.

“Everyone was helping each other and this is what you need to be able to compete at the highest level. Good team spirit is what you need to be successful.

“Looking at our team from 2006 to 2014, it helped writing history together. It was educational, everybody knew how a team-mate would react in difficult times or under pressure. This knowledge helped us compete at the highest level.” 

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England entertain Spain at Wembley in their first Nations League fixture on Saturday, before a friendly with Switzerland at the King Power Stadium next Tuesday. 

Southgate has made five changes from the squad that he took to Russia, with Jamie Vardy and Gary Cahill announcing their international retirement, Nick Pope and Phil Jones ruled out through injury, and Ashley Young left out.

Defenders Joe Gomez, James Tarkowski and Luke Shaw, and goalkeepers Alex McCarthy and Marcus Bettinelli join the ranks in their stead. Adam Lallana was initially called up, but was forced to withdraw with an injury, along with Raheem Sterling. 

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