England manager Gareth Southgate has sounded a warning that a failure to play English players in the Premier League could have repercussions on the international stage.
Data has revealed that only 30 per cent of all starting spots in the recently concluded Premier League season went to England-qualified players. In the previous season the figure was 33.2 percent.
Southgate believes more must be done to increase the representation of English players in the top flight or he sees problems down the road for himself or his successors as national team manager.
“We’ve got to arrest this slide,” he said at a press conference, “because it isn’t correct to say we’re not developing good players. There’s tremendous work going on at our academies.
“The big concern for me is this graph continues to fall away and that we end up in 10 years’ time with an England manager who has got 15% of the league to choose from. Why would that not happen? It’s a big danger for us.”
Southgate believes that the progress of Phil Foden at Manchester City is the exception rather than the rule suggesting that more players make it to their clubs first-choice teams ‘by chance’.
“With a Phil Foden there has been a clear plan at Manchester City this season. But we need more of those sorts of opportunities for young players.”
Southgate also warned of complacency during a successful period for English football, domestically and internationally.
The Premier League provides all four teams in the major men’s European finals, no country has ever done so before.
In addition England made the semi-finals of the World Cup and look to build on that momentum in June’s Nations League Finals.
The ex-England U-21’s boss thinks that steps must be taken to maintain that positive momentum, getting in a tongue-in-cheek reference to England’s old enemy, Germany.
“We can’t sit back, either as a league or a national federation and think ‘OK it’s all going well and so we sit,’” he continued.
“Because those bloody Germans, they will be doing stuff. They’re out looking at how they get better.
“We have to keep improving from a position of strength, not wait until we are six or seven years on from this. It’s a good idea to review things when the momentum is positive.”