England manager Roy Hodgson admitted on Monday that his players are still digesting the disappointment of their World Cup group-stage exit despite their impressive form since the tournament.
England have won all of the five games they have played since their first-round elimination in Brazil and will look to make it six wins from six when they tackle old rivals Scotland in a friendly on Tuesday.
But when asked to assess the progress his side have made since the World Cup, Hodgson played down suggestions that their run of success represented a fresh start.
“It’s a difficult one for me. If I say what I really think, people will turn it against me,” he told journalists in Glasgow.
“The World Cup was a real cold shower for us, a real bad moment. I thought we were doing quite a lot of things that were leading up to see what we’d hope.
“Then we lost two matches and we’ve hit a wall, and supposedly we have to start again. I don’t think we’ve started again.
“We did have a massive barrier to get over after the World Cup, because we created that barrier by losing two matches. We erected the fence.
“But I don’t think we started at the World Cup and have now got somewhere. We’d always been working towards what we’re getting today.”
England captain Wayne Rooney, seated beside Hodgson in a draughty press marquee outside Celtic Park, concurred.
“Before the World Cup we were playing well, in good form, then the two games… it was difficult to get over them,” he said.
“We had to try and forget about that as quickly as we could and continue the form we’d shown before, to keep improving. We’re doing that gradually. Then we’ll take that form into a major tournament.”
Having seen England open up a six-point lead at the top of their Euro 2016 qualifying group by coming from behind to beat Slovenia 3-1 on Saturday, Hodgson is expected to shuffle his pack against Gordon Strachan’s Scotland.
With Joe Hart having returned to Manchester City to rest, Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster has been tipped to start at the home of his former club Celtic.
West Bromwich Albion’s 21-year-old striker Saido Berahino is in line to make his senior international debut, while Ross Barkley and Theo Walcott are also expected to feature after recently returning from injury.
Tuesday’s game will see Rooney line up against his Manchester United colleague Darren Fletcher, who has returned to full fitness after a two-year battle with a chronic bowel condition.
“First of all, it’s incredible for him to be back playing, to be back in the Scotland team,” said Rooney, who became the youngest England player to reach 100 caps against Slovenia.
“It shows the character he is, the type of person he is. Obviously it was a hard moment for Darren and his family, and he’s come through that with flying colours.
“He doesn’t miss a training session. He trains really hard, so I’m really pleased he’s managed to come through. He’s back fit and ready to play.
“Obviously, we speak about the game and tomorrow (Tuesday) night he’s playing for Scotland and I’m playing for England. We’re great friends off the pitch, but for 90 minutes we’re opponents.”