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Is Hodgson right to worry about the lack of young English players?

Roy Hodgson

The Three Lions manager has stated that the number of foreign players coming to English shores could damage the national team as a consequence.

With the World Cup less than a year away and England playing crucial qualifying fixtures soon against Moldova and Ukraine, Roy Hodgson has voiced concerns over the future of the national team.

With the likes of Fernandinho, Eto’o, Soldado and Aspas just a few of the foreigners moving to leading Premier League sides this summer, Hodgson is right to suggest that young English players are having real problems getting regular first-team football.

"I saw a television programme the other day talking about there being 240 English players in the Premier League," Hodgson said.

"They must be including a lot of players I have never heard of, because I can't name that many. If we are talking about players who could play for England then they need to be starting regularly for their club's first team, or young players like Ross Barkley or Raheem Sterling who are already so good that their coaches are pretty keen to get them on to the pitch.

“I would defy anyone to come up with 240 names. I don't think, frankly, you would be able to manage more than 30 or 40."

Hodgson mentions youngsters such as Tottenham’s Tom Carroll and Manchester United pair Jesse Lingard and Nick Powell, who are all ready to play in the Premier League but rarely get the opportunity. The England boss is concerned that their development is being shackled by over-competitiveness in their club squads.

“These are all talented English footballers who I think will become very good players, but they are not at the moment in the 30% of English players in the Premier League,” he continued.

“I'm not criticising the judgment of the coaches. These players are too good to let go but they are finding it hard to get games. As a nation we must hope that a lack of games will not destroy their careers, because it could happen.

“If you spend a couple of years being too good to let go but not good enough to play every week, you might not be a good player at the end of it. That's the danger. That's where the debate should lie."

Looking at the top six clubs in the Premier League, breaking into the first team if you are a homegrown talent looks nigh impossible. Manchester United have had the likes of Tom Cleverley make the step up, but only after a loan spell at Wigan. Chelsea and Manchester City have had very few and could field all-foreign sides.

Liverpool have the likes of Andre Wisdom and Raheem Sterling, who will get time on the pitch, but have to compete with international-standard foreign signings. Despite the prominence of Carroll and Andros Townsend at Tottenham, seven top-quality foreign players have been brought to White Hart Lane this summer.

With the good of the national game at stake, there is certainly an argument for limiting the amount of foreign players each club can have, or having a minimum number of English players in your team/squad.

The problem is however that the Premier League’s priorities contrast that of the national game, and until a change is made it will continue to be very difficult for English teenage stars to get game playing time in the top division.

image: © nicksarebi

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