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The Sport Matrix: Thursday 5 September 2013

Dyke: We must act to end English talent crisis

Faced with the possibility of England being "unable to compete seriously on the world stage" because of a shortage of players appearing at leading clubs, the Football Association yesterday reverted to the default mode of English sport and set up a commission.

It will include representatives of the Premier League, Football League, the League Managers' Association and the Professional Footballers' Association and is due to report in the new year. Before then views will also be invited from all interested parties, including supporters' groups, academics and even journalists.

The inclusion of the Premier League, which many see as a prime cause of the problem, is designed to emphasise that, as new FA chairman Greg Dyke put it, this new approach is no "declaration of war" and "no blame game".

His heavily trailed speech was titled "Future of the England Team" and made it clear that the future was anything but bright if present trends continued. He quoted the statistic that in 1992-93, 69 per cent of all players starting matches were qualified for England. Ten years later that figure was 38 and last season it was 32.

On average there are 70 English players appearing at that level each weekend, although Roy Hodgson, England manager, above, believes the pool realistically available for the seniors is between 30 and 40.

"The question I want to ask is a simple one," Dyke said. "Do we let this trend continue or do we actually do something about it? Last season's figure for the Premier League was 32 per cent English players starting. What happens when that declines to 25, 20 or even 15 per cent? Do we ignore the problem and hope it goes away? Or do we take action now? The situation is very serious."

The commission will therefore ask three questions: Why has it come to this? What can be done about it? How can any proposals be implemented?

"Going forward we will give ourselves a much better chance of winning tournaments if we have a bigger pool of players to pick from," Dyke added, "which means having more English players who are consistent starters." MORE

Murray struggles into the last eight

Andy Murray came from a set down to take his place in the last eight of the US Open, beating Denis Istomin 6-7, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. In the women's event, Flavia Pennetta overcame fellow Italian Roberta Vinci in straight sets to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final. MORE

Durham hold aces after second day

Durham moved into a commanding position on the second day of their County Championship match yesterday. The title hopefuls bowled Sussex out for just 112 at the ICG, Graham Onions taking four wickets, before ending on 212 for six at the close, a lead of 345. MORE

Carrick is used to being underrated

Michael Carrick is used to his talents being undervalued at both club and international level. "I've had it for so long," the Manchester United midfielder, who at 32 has won just 29 caps, said ahead of tomorrow's match with Moldova. "It's always been the same." MORE

Scrum law will be strict, warns ref

Referee Wayne Barnes has warned Premiership clubs that officials will be strict in enforcing this season's new scrum laws. "There will be teething problems," he said. "But we have to make sure this works; we want better scrums." MORE

Bale reveals hard route to the top

Gareth Bale has spoken of his initial struggles to make it in the game. "It was difficult," the midfielder said. "I had growing problems with my back, which made my hamstrings tight, which meant I couldn't run so quick and it affected the way I played." MORE

Southgate seeking stylish debut

Gareth Southgate is keen for his new England Under-21 side to play in an attractive style as they take on Moldova tonight. "They've got to learn to win a certain way to be of use to the seniors," he said. "There's an opportunity to play in a certain style." MORE

Joyeuse keeps it in the family way

Joyeuse, half-sister to Frankel, has a first run since Royal Ascot at Salisbury, taking part in the Listed Dick Poole Fillies' Stakes. "As she hasn't had a run for a while she might be a little rusty," manager Teddy Grimthorpe said. MORE

Ian Herbert

Thank God for Greg Dyke – breezing up to a microphone and politely advising us to pack away thoughts of lifting a World Cup before 2022. How desperately we needed that dose of realism. MORE

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