England captain Steven Gerrard will start his final World Cup campaign in Moldova on Friday but insists performance and not age should be the ultimate factor in determining who plays.
Gerrard accepts time is running out for him to achieve glory for his country, with England currently not one of the favourites to win in Brazil in 2014 should they qualify. However, the 32-year-old believes he still has plenty to offer at present as England look to bounce back from the disappointment of their Euro 2012 quarter-final exit on penalties to Italy.
Gerrard said: "I think we can safely say it's definitely my last World Cup, that's for sure. I'm at that age where I need to make all the time count and give it my best shot. It's probably my last (England) campaign. Let's try and make the most of it. When I speak I'm realistic and honest. At the moment, we're not one of the favourites to win the World Cup."
He continued: "That doesn't mean you stop believing, working hard to improve, try and learn from the mistakes you've made at previous tournaments.
"This team has every chance to improve and get better in the next few years, with players coming through and those players with the experience. We have to have that faith and keep believing. You never stop believing in football Miracles do happen. It's been proved."
Head coach Roy Hodgson has a blend of experienced hands such as Gerrard, Frank Lampard and John Terry alongside a crop of young emerging players. Gerrard continued: "You should judge players on performances. It doesn't matter how old they are. The manager knows who's playing well and who's in form, who deserves to be picked.
"You need to be playing well to stay in this team. I remember reading just before the Euros all the journalists who wanted Paul Scholes back in the set-up, and he was 34 at the time.
"That gives me a few more years! Frank's a top player. He certainly deserves to be in this set-up. He's been a top player for a long time and his performances don't seem to be affected to me on him being a year older. I judge a player on what I see with my eye, not his age."
Gerrard has had to endure a difficult start to the campaign at Liverpool - but he is refusing to panic after the Reds have picked up just one point from the opening three Barclays Premier League games.
He said: "When you're not winning football matches it's tough. But when you have my kind of experience, you don't panic after three games. We were fantastic against Manchester City and should have won. Against Arsenal it was the opposite. It's not the time to panic, but it's been a tough few weeks. But it's not anything we can't take forward."