Hodgson concern about EPL's lack of English stars
LONDON (AP) - With crucial World Cup qualifiers approaching, England coach Roy Hodgson has complained that his talent pool is severely limited by foreign players packing Premier League teams.
Barely 30 percent of the players in action in the Premier League are English, according to Hodgson, who is unhappy that overseas imports are used as quick-fix solution by managers, blocking the paths of homegrown prospects into the teams.
None of last season's top seven sides - Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton and Liverpool - has so far signed an Englishman in the summer transfer window after collectively spending hundreds of millions of dollars on imports.
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, though, said recently that there were more than 200 English players in the topflight last season.
That statistic, which Hodgson heard repeated during a television discussion, is disputed by the veteran manager, who said he "can't name that many''
"I would defy anyone to come up with 240 (English) names in the Premier League,'' the former Liverpool, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham manager said. "I don't think quite frankly you would be able to come up to 30 or 40.''
That's a problem when Hodgson has to pick a squad that can qualify for the World Cup, and is then capable of competing with the leading nations in Brazil next year.
England is second in its qualifying group, two points behind Montenegro with four games remaining. England hosts Moldova at Wembley Stadium on Friday and travels to Kiev to play Ukraine on Sept. 10.
Hodgson is concerned that, although the leading clubs have English players on their books, they aren't always first-team regulars because "their way is blocked by extremely talented players.''
Hodgson even doubts whether David Beckham would have been given an opportunity to shine had he been breaking into football today.
The now-retired former England captain emerged from United's renowned "Class of `92'' - members of that year's youth team, also including Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, and brothers Gary and Phil Neville, who became regulars for their club and England.
Hodgson said that because the Premier League is "such an important league, the coaches are under such enormous pressure'' that they can't risk allowing young players to develop.
"What would have become of the Nevilles, Beckham, Scholes, (Welsh winger Ryan) Giggs, (Nicky) Butt had it not been the fact the time when they were growing up the manager (Alex Ferguson) did take a chance,'' Hodgson said. "They didn't go rushing out and buy a foreigner every time.''
Hodgson points now to Tottenham, which has invested close to 100 million pounds ($150 million) on a string of overseas recruits in 2013, limiting opportunities for English players at White Hart Lane, including 21-year-old midfielder Tom Carroll.
"They are players who are too good to let go but they are finding it hard to get games,'' Hodgson said. "Now we've got to find a way ourselves of making certain that we don't dismiss these players, that we don't lose them. As a nation I've got to hope not getting a lot of games is not going to destroy their careers because it could happen.
"If you go two years as a player who is too good to let go but not good enough to play every week you might not be a very good player at the end of it.''
Hodgson accepted he doesn't see much club football below the senior level.
"In the (England) under-21s I come into contact with Jesse Lingard who I've never heard of basically because I don't watch under-21s,'' Hodgson said, discussing the 20-year-old Manchester United midfielder who impressed on the club's pre-season tour.
On the flip side, while the Premier League is importing players, none of the outfield players in Hodgson's latest squad have any experience playing for a club abroad.
"The players who will get their chance to try their luck abroad are the players the (English) clubs don't want,'' Hodgson said.
Rob Harris can be reached at www.Twitter.com/RobHarris
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