Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Hodgson grasps foreigner problem

Roy Hodgson concedes that young English players will always struggle to win a place in a top Premier League side due to foreign stars

Roy Hodgson believes England's brightest young stars will always struggle to break into the top Premier League sides because of expensive foreign imports.

England's inexperienced squad were condemned to their quickest World Cup exit in history last Friday, less than 24 hours after their 2-1 defeat to Uruguay.

Past World Cup exits have been followed by inquests into English football's deep-rooted problems, but that has not been the case this time around as Greg Dyke conducted one before the tournament began.

The chairman of the Football Association concluded in his report that the national team was heading for oblivion if it did not redress the shrinking number of English players in top-flight football.

And Hodgson agrees the pathway to the top for the best young English prospects is not an easy one to navigate.

"There's always going to be a problem. It's ridiculous to try to suggest there isn't," the England manager said.

"The players we're looking at who could be good enough to play for England at 18, 19, 20 years of age are quite often playing in the top five or six clubs.

"That's where the biggest stars are, and where the biggest money is and where the biggest chance of a blockage is in getting into the team. So let's come to terms with that."

There are some examples of English youngsters who have climbed to the top.

Raheem Sterling wowed the crowd in the Arena Amazonia against Italy with some of his touches despite being just 19 years old.

And Andros Townsend scored a stunning goal on his debut against Montenegro last October having turned 22 just a few months earlier.

But there are many examples of players who have headed for big clubs only to find they end up playing a peripheral role. Jack Rodwell, a rising star at Everton but now surplus to requirements at the Etihad Stadium, is a prime example.

Dyke's suggestion to improve the number of youngsters making the grade is to establish a new tier within the Football League to accommodate Premier League B teams.

Hodgson is not entirely sure how to solve the problem.

"We need to keep looking to see if there is a system that would help these 19-year-olds who are not playing in (Manchester) United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Manchester City first teams," he said.

"Is there a way of getting them into football on a regular basis to play against men that would improve them? It's not as easy as all that.

"You'd run into arguments that would the best thing for Raheem Sterling not playing for Liverpool to go and play in the English third division or the Conference?

"Would that be the best way forward? It's complicated. I'm glad we're looking into it."

Hodgson thinks England should get more access to young players so they are ready for what awaits them if they make the step up to full international level.

"We have to make certain that we get as much access as we can to the players in the academies, that we induct them fully into what we're expecting," he said.

"We have to make certain that when the players come into our environment we induct them fully into what we are expecting, what we think being an England player means, not just in terms of behaviour and culture, but in terms of how important it is for you to play in a certain way, making certain we get our midfielders turning on the ball, receiving balls on the back foot, being positive.

"We can do some work on that. We don't just have to rely on clubs giving their 19-year-old a game in the first team or not. We can do that."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife galleries

More

Latest Sport News

Stats Centre