England boss Gareth Southgate has admitted they are not on par with the world's best just yet and has stressed there is no "magic wand" to help them make the next step.
The Three Lions have won just one of their last five fixtures - beating Lithuania 2-0, while drawing against Spain and Scotland, the remaining two games defeats at the hands of France and Germany.
Question marks have arisen over England's lack of progress, but Southgate feels it is only logical his young squad needs time to develop.
"That is the reality of where we are as a country. We have some young players coming through who have really good potential and can be exciting but there is no shortcut," Southgate said.
"I am afraid there is no magic wand but we are recognising where we are short, we are recognising where we can exploit teams. We have had some joy doing that but our game, in all areas, without the ball has to improve.
"The only way we can understand the gap is by playing these teams. If we had played lesser teams and won maybe we would all be getting excited and thinking we are better than we actually are.
"The reality is to find out exactly where we are against the very best. We have had two matches away and one at home and for long periods we have acquitted ourselves well.
"But we have a bit to do and I think it is important, as a group of players and a group of staff, we recognise that."