England football faces Premier-sized problem

While England can boast the most glamourous football league, it may be hurting the progressing of its own players.

    England football faces Premier-sized problem
    England's manager Roy Hodgson has unenviable task of selecting from England's dwindling pool of talent [Reuters]

    An alarmingly small talent pool of Englishmen in the Premier League has weakened the national team, the head of the English football said on Wednesday.

    New Football Association chairman Greg Dyke complained that the Premier League he helped to establish in 1992 led to an influx of foreign players that was never foreseen, denying first-team opportunities to homegrown prospects.

    The former television executive says the fact the Premier League is now 'largely owned by foreign owners, managed by foreign managers and played by foreign players' has 'weakened, rather than strengthened' the England team.

    "I am not being xenophobic but my job is to help ensure that English football and particularly the England team is in a healthy state," Dyke said, addressing a lunch in London.

    Last weekend only 65 English players started in the Premier League with another 14 coming on as substitutes. Taking into account that some of these players are not international standard I think it's fair to say we already have a very small talent pool and it's getting smaller

    Greg Dyke, FA chairman

    In the inaugural Premier League season - 1992-93 - 69 percent of players in starting lineups were English, but the FA said that figure had dropped to 32 percent last season.

    "Now I know statistics can be manipulated but no-one can argue that the overall trend isn't anything but alarming," Dyke said.

    Just 25 percent of new recruits by Premier League clubs in the summer transfer window were English, down from 37 percent just two years ago, Dyke said.

    "Last weekend only 65 English players started in the Premier League with another 14 coming on as substitutes. Taking into account that some of these players are not international standard I think it's fair to say we already have a very small talent pool and it's getting smaller.

    "In the future it's quite possible we won't have enough players qualified to play for England who are playing regularly at the highest level in this country or elsewhere in the world. As a result, it could well mean England's teams are unable to compete seriously on the world stage."

    While not writing off England's chances of competing at tournaments, Dyke does not expect the 1966 World Cup winners to challenge for honours at the next two World Cup or European championships.

    "(I want) the England team to at least reach the semifinals of the Euro Championship in 2020 and the second is for us to win the World Cup in 2022," Dyke said.

    England is struggling to make next year's World Cup with four qualifiers remaining.

    SOURCE: AP


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