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Dan Ashworth admits the domestic game has a lot to learn but believes the national team can catch the likes of Spain with the right investment and intelligent implementation

Dan Ashworth, the Football Association's head of elite development, believes English football is at a crucial juncture if the national team is to catch the likes of Spain and Germany.

The former West Bromwich Albion sporting and technical director is confident that the state of the art facilities and player development plans they have in place will benefit every young English footballer.

Ashworth told the Guardian: "I think we're at a crossroads. We've got the opening of St George's Park, which is six months in. We've got the EPPP [elite player performance plan], which is nine months in.

"We've got a situation where there is a real common thread between the three main bodies in ourselves, the Premier League and the Football League.

"We're all very keen to invest time, effort and resources into player and coach development and get more homegrown players through. Everybody is on the same page. I'm really optimistic and confident."

England's youth set up has been heavily criticised in recent years following a series of disappointing tournament performances. Many have pointed out the Spanish, Dutch and German youth system as the perfect example.

But Ashworth believes England must still find their own brand of success, adding: "I'm really cautious of saying: 'We're going to do a Holland, we're going to do a Germany, we're going to do a Spain, we're going to do a France,' If you look at the history – everybody wanted to go to Holland, then everyone wanted to go to Clairefontaine, then Spain, now it's Germany.

"We are England, we are English. We play like England but we take the best bits of other sports, other nations.

"We'd be blinkered and stupid if we didn't open our eyes to good practice in other nations. But also let's not get away from the good attributes and good assets we have as a nation."

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