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Fabian Delph fears England will forever rue failure to reach World Cup final

England finished fourth in Russia.

Fabian Delph fears England’s players will rue their failure to reach the World Cup final for the rest of their lives.

Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions surrendered a semi-final lead to lose 2-1 to Croatia in midweek before suffering a 2-0 defeat to Belgium in Saturday’s third-place play-off.

Midfielder Delph believes the national team’s display in Russia offers plenty of hope for the future but expects regret and disappointment to linger.

“Not just in the near future, I think for the rest of our lives we’ll be kicking ourselves saying we had a real opportunity,” the Manchester City player told ITV Sport.

“The semi-final, I think we had a great chance to reach the final but we came up short.

“It’s knockout football, it just takes one performance, some freak things that happen, but fair play to Croatia they came and did well, they were relentless for the majority of the game and they got the win so I wish them all the best.

“But we’ve made massive changes, we’ve had a fantastic camp, and I think we’ve got something to build from for the next four years.”

Fellow midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek also thinks England have plenty to build on.

“We can all be proud of ourselves. This squad’s so young, so much potential in it and I think the whole team and organisation are really looking forward to what’s in the future,” said Loftus-Cheek.

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek enjoyed his first taste of a major international tournament (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“Even though the last two games have been a bit disappointing, we go back and have a little bit of a party and celebrate what we’ve achieved.”

England were 22 minutes away from their first World Cup final on foreign soil before Croatia came back to win after extra-time and book Sunday’s Moscow meeting with France.

Defender John Stones feels the team have succeeded in making the country proud again following dismal campaigns at the previous World Cup and Euro 2016.

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John Stones featured in all seven of England’s games in Russia (Adam Davy/PA)

“We wanted to be the best team in English history, to finish as high as we can away from home, it’s a great feeling to get to a semi-final and it’s just difficult to take when we didn’t get that one step further,” he said.

“To be playing for third in a World Cup after two years of hard work with Gareth coming in, wanting to make the nation proud of us again and play good football.

“I think we’ve done that and (it’s) quite disappointing at the minute but on reflection we can look at it and be proud.”

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