Taylor fears a vacuum of starlets

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The Independent Online

Peter Taylor, England's Under-21 coach, yesterday added his voice to those concerned about the future dearth of emerging talent in this country.

The former England manager Graham Taylor maintained after the World Cup that England could become another Scotland in world football if the decline in young English players in the Premiership was not arrested. His namesake Peter, who scouted for the England set-up over a summer in which he also moved from Hull City to Crystal Palace, said: "If I was to be England manager in 10 years' time, I would be slightly nervous about how many players are coming through."

He adds: "I'd say probably for the next five years, maybe a bit more, there's no problem at all. I think we've got enough players, I mean those now coming through; that's because the academies Howard Wilkinson set up are starting to produce rewards. Like last year, when I took over the Under-21s again, we had some incredibly skilful players to look after: the Lennons, Routledges, Milners, Downings of this world. We were producing lots of skilful, running players. Aaron Lennon, of course, had an outstanding season.

"If the rules are starting to get relaxed regarding the academies, and I'm hearing that might be the case, and maybe the investment's not going to go into them, that would worry me. So, I'd say maybe in 10 years' time, we would have a lack of players."

Taylor is also concerned about the number of young foreign players in the Premiership. "I still believe we should have only the top foreign players here. They have been an absolute credit, great for our game and for our youngsters, who all now eat the right thing and prepare in the right way because of their example. But we don't want so many that they stop good English youngsters getting into the team."

He adds: "Not only are the top European players playing over here in our Premiership, but them being out of their country means the young French players, for example, are playing in their Premiership. They are gaining their experience there. Older players are maybe gaining experience here, so they have two lots going through. Our youngsters are not even playing in the Premiership here. We're getting blocked in every direction. Imagine if you had all our top players playing in France and their young players couldn't get in their teams... it just isn't right.

"The only advantage is that, whenever I pick an Under-21 squad, they are all going to turn up because they haven't got injured because they haven't been playing! That can't be right."

Lennon is gaining experience at Tottenham, who have just lost another promising English player, Michael Carrick, to Manchester United. Spurs were proud of their English backbone, starting at the back with the England goalkeeper Paul Robinson behind the centre-backs Ledley King and Michael Dawson, Carrick alongside Lennon and Jermaine Jenas in midfield and Jermain Defoe up front. Now with Carrick moving on his role could go to an import, Didier Zokora of the Ivory Coast.

Spurs have been linked with Stewart Downing, who could solve one of Tottenham's troublesome positions, on the left side of midfield, and he would restore the English emphasis. The question is, though, would Spurs increase their offer for the Midlesbrough wide player simply because they now have more money. They presumably have their own valuation of the player and that simply may not match Middlesbrough's.

The same applies to another of Tottenham's earlier targets, Pascal Chimbonda, the right-back who is valued by Wigan at £6 million.

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