There are few positives for Roy Hodgson's England to take home with them once they leave Brazil later this week, but one of the brighter spots of their not-so-bright campaign was Hodgson's choice to take a risk on starting a young player like Raheem Sterling. England may not yet be famous for their innovative approach to youth development, but there's a promising group of young men in the current squad's ranks who might just have it in them to do something interesting at the next tournament.
Amongst England's under 25 contingent are the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw, and the most finely coiffed man to grace the pitch at Belo Horizonte on Tuesday, Jordan Henderson. A former England captain at the U-21 level, Henderson isn't planning to dwell on England's failures in Brazil, but rather he'll look to the future and learn from the experience.
"I'm sure there will be days when you'll wake up and it'll come back into your head," Henderson said of England's elimination, "but at the same time, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and you have to keep going. I'm sure everyone at home is feeling down. We feel as though we have let a lot of people down, but at the same time we have shown people how well we can play in a big tournament with young players coming through.
"We went out and played with no fear. We have a promising young side, hopefully we can gel together and in the future have many more happy memories. It doesn't really get much bigger than playing in the World Cup. It's been an unbelievable experience, but no matter whether we've had highs or lows, you have to learn from it as best you can. I'm sure the young lads here will learn from that and it will make them stronger and better as well."
At twenty-four, Henderson is amongst the older players in this bunch of young 'uns. Provided he maintains or exceeds the form and growth he's shown in the last two years at Liverpool, he'll likely feature regularly at Euro 2016, which puts him in prime position for the World Cup in Russia in 2018 when he's twenty-eight. Most of England's seasoned veterans will have reduced playing time or will have passed out of the team entirely by that point, leaving a hefty experience and leadership gap in their wake.
I'm not saying Jordan Henderson's going to captain England at the next World Cup or anything, but I'm pretty sure Jordan Henderson will captain England at the next World Cup.