Belfast Telegraph

Bernstein: Make Prem more English

Football Association chairman David Bernstein has admitted there is a "desperate need" to increase the number of English players in the Premier League.

Bernstein said only 30% of players in the top flight were eligible to England compared to more than 50% in Germany - the actual figure in the Bundesliga is now 60%. The outgoing chairman, who steps down in July, said work was already underway to address the problem.

He said: "On the wider issue of club and country, the number of English players in the Premier League and the Football League is a really important matter. We have this number of around 30% and in Germany it is more than 50% and that 20% is a lot of players."

Bernstein added: "We desperately need to increase the pool of real quality players that the manager Roy Hodgson has to choose from. That I think is the big issue.

"All the work we are doing such as in youth development is aimed at doing that over the next few years and it's great to see some very good players coming through now such as Jack Wilshere. There are some coming through but we need many more."

Bernstein is confident that Hodgson's side can return to Brazil next year for the World Cup despite some tricky qualifiers in the autumn - and said England would be "selling ourselves short" if they don't make it.

He added: "The spirit engendered by Roy has been absolutely excellent. The relationship between the chairman and the manager in any football club or organisation is important and you are right, we do get on very well. There is a chemistry there.

"I think things are in really good shape. I am confident that we will move on, get the results and qualify for the World Cup. I am sure that having played in the Maracana that the players will be desperate to get back here.

"It is obviously extremely important [to qualify]. At the end of the day we want to be in the major championships and for England not to be in the finals would just be selling ourselves short. Our public want it, our fans want it, the players want it, the manager desperately wants it.

"We have some difficult matches ahead make no mistake, we have seen already the teams in our group are very good so we are going to have to play very well, we have big home matches coming up. But I am confident we will get there. We certainly need to be here it's a wonderful place and it's going to be a magnificent tournament."

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