English talent pool is merely a drop in the Premier League ocean

The Weekend Dossier

Maybe there is hope for Grant Holt after all. The Norwich centre-forward may have been overlooked again when the England squad for next week's match in Sweden was named but he is only 35 days older than Leon Osman, who received his first call-up. Moreover, Roy Hodgson is today attending the Madejski Stadium to watch the Canaries at Reading. Who else could the England manager be looking at in this relegation battle?

Actually, there are several possibilities, not least both goalkeepers. Based on the teams fielded last weekend Reading v Norwich is likely to see more England-qualified footballers on the pitch than any other match today. If the starting XIs are unchanged Hodgson will see enough Englishmen to make a team, albeit one with two keepers.

Last weekend 272 footballers played in the Premier League, 85 of them were English-qualified, 31 per cent. Counting only starting XIs there were 62 players available to Hodgson, 28 per cent. That is a startling 10 percentage points below the 2006-07 average and well below the native percentage in the other major leagues.

West Ham fielded the most Englishmen, though three of those seven appeared as substitutes. Wigan fielded the least, Ben Watson flying a lone flag for the national team.

This is an inevitable consequence of the Premier League's wealth. While even Manchester United cannot match the allure of Barcelona and Real Madrid, and Manchester City do not pay wages as high as Anzhi Makhachkala, English clubs collectively pay better than anyone in Europe. Why else is Klass-Jan Huntelaar, performing in the Champions League for a German club, being linked with a move to a Liverpool team who have not appeared in that competition since 2010? Why else have the likes of Pablo Hernandez, Arouna Kone and Julio Cesar joined Swansea, Wigan and QPR?

This makes the Premier League a vibrant and exotic product with worldwide appeal, but every two years England stumble out of a major tournament at the quarter-final stage.

There are many reasons for the national team's repeated failure, not least years of coaching which have placed pace and power ahead of technique and decision-making. But undeniably the talent pool lacks depth. Repeatedly, England managers have a decent starting XI but insufficient cover when injuries and suspensions occur.

Hodgson is currently engaged in the three-pronged task of qualifying for World Cup 2014, identifying a team which can compete in Brazil, and building one which can win the 2016 European Championship. Being staged in France, that is a much more realistic prospect than 2014.

To that end he cast his net again for next week's trip to Sweden, bringing in Osman and, assuming his international clearance comes through, Carl Jenkinson. This brought to 45 the number of players called up by Hodgson, who has so far capped 36 players in 11 internationals.

Adding injured players to last week's 85 active Englishmen, and deducting those no longer available such as Paul Scholes and Ben Foster, Hodgson has now selected almost half the senior players available to him. No wonder Holt feels aggrieved.

A hundred players ought to be enough to pick a squad from but many of them are too raw, such as Aston Villa's Matt Lowton, Saints' Luke Shaw, Spurs' Tom Carroll. Others, like Bobby Zamora, Nicky Shorey and Phil Neville, have their international days behind them. Many are simply not good enough.

That much is clear when the list is trimmed to those with Champions League experience, which is a benchmark Hodgson will recognise, given he has awarded 134 of the 161 caps won under him to players with Champions League experience. Just 24 of the Englishmen in action last week have ever played in Europe's elite competition and for many, such as Osman, Steve Sidwell and Carlton Cole, that experience was fleeting.

With the new TV deal bringing even greater wealth next season, and around 30 per cent of players in the under-21 league hailing from outside the UK, the situation will not be improving any time soon. Thus this week's tug-of-war for Jack Wilshere, a rare English pearl in a global game.

Dwindling band: Home-grown players

English-qualified footballers fielded in the Premier League 3-5 November 2012

Arsenal *Wilshere, (*Walcott)

Aston Villa Bennett, Lowton, Westwood, Agbonlahor

Chelsea *Cahill, *Cole, (*Sturridge), (*Bertrand)

Everton Jagielka, Baines, *Osman, *Neville

Fulham (*Sidwell)

Liverpool *Gerrard, (Downing), Sterling, (Shelvey), Wisdom

Manchester City *Hart, *Barry (Sinclair)

Manchester United *Ferdinand, *Young, *Carrick, *Cleverley, *Rooney

Newcastle United S Taylor, Perch, (Simpson), (Sammy Ameobi)

Norwich City Ruddy, Turner, Johnson, Holt, (R Bennett), (Barnett)

QPR Ferdinand, (Onuoha), (Zamora)

Reading McCarthy, Morrison, Shorey, McCleary, (Le Fondre)

Southampton Clyne, Lambert, Rodriguez, Lallana (Shaw)

Stoke City Wilkinson, Shawcross, Kightly, Whitehead, *Crouch, (Etherington)

Sunderland Rose,*Johnson, Cattermole, Gardner, Colback (Campbell)

Swansea City Monk, Routledge, Britton, (Dyer), (Graham)

Tottenham Walker, Caulker, *Huddlestone, *Lennon, *Defoe (Carroll)

WBA *Foster, Jones, Ridgewell

West Ham United Noble, Jarvis, Nolan, Carroll, (*Cole) (Spence), (O'Neil)

Wigan Athletic Watson

Key ( ) = substitute; * = Champions League experience (inc qualifying rounds).

Five Asides

1. Branch's imprisonment is an important reminder

More years ago than I care to remember I went to Greece with the England Under-16s and watched a team based on the now defunct FA National School record a very impressive victory. Unusually for that time England were the smaller, more technically skilled team. A bright future was forecast for many of the boys, notably the lone striker, Everton's Michael Branch.

Ultimately, none of the team played for England at senior level. but Mark Gower, Neil Clement and Jody Morris forged decent careers. So did Branch for a while, primarily with Wolves, but somewhere along the line he went astray and this week he was jailed for seven years for drug offences. It was a sad and salutary reminder for all young players, and their parents and coaches, that football is a precarious, competitive profession in which support and dedication are as important as talent.

2. Wenger's Wilshere woes garner little sympathy

Arsène Wenger's complaint that Jack Wilshere should have 10 days' rest rather than play 45 minutes for England in Sweden next week would have more credence if anyone seriously believed Wenger would have rested Wilshere against Fulham today were he not suspended.

3. Is Herbert is relishing the game's recent race rows?

I am sure the Society of Black Lawyers is an honourable organisation dedicated to combating racism everywhere, but it is hard to dispel the impression that chair Peter Herbert is relishing the publicity football is providing his hitherto little-known body. Football has problems, but compared to most industries and professions in Britain it is integrated, meritocratic and has a good record of fighting racism. But praising that won't provide him with a headline.

4. Appleton's record meant a move was a certainty

Good luck to Michael Appleton at Blackpool. It was inevitable that he would leave Portsmouth, for in the modern game few things are more attractive on a manager's CV than the recommendation: "Can work miracles without money."

5. Obama needs to borrow Chelsea's numbers man

The first appointment Barack Obama needs to make to his new administration is clear: hire the financial wizard whose advice has enabled Chelsea to produce a set of accounts that show a profit. The impending Financial Cliff will be reduced to a hummock and the fiscal deficit wiped out. Then he can come back to rescue George Osborne.

twitter.com/GlennMoore7

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
Sport
SPORT
News
people
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Biggins as Mrs Smee in Peter Pan
theatreHow do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick