Roy Hodgson fears for future of top English talent

England manager bemoans tendency of clubs like Tottenham to buy seasoned foreigners because the young English players cannot gain experience

In the most famous meeting between Arsenal and Tottenham, when Bertie Mee's team beat Bill Nicholson's at White Hart Lane to complete the first part of their 1971 Double, the "foreign" element involved in the match comprised a handful of Scots, the Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings and Joe Kinnear, an Irish international brought up in Watford. Both managers, needless to say, were of solid British stock.

For this afternoon's 171st encounter, there might be up to eight Englishmen on the pitch at any one time which, as our table shows, is higher than in many recent meetings. Yet similar research into any derby in the Premier League would reveal a clear trend: not only is the number of local lads diminishing but so is the number of Englishmen taking part.

Of more than 100 new signings made by Premier League clubs so far this summer, less than a quarter have been qualified for England. Sunderland and Newcastle, Liverpool and Everton, the two Manchester clubs, Chelsea and Fulham, as well as Arsenal and Spurs, have all bought foreign in a trend of deep concern to the England manager Roy Hodgson.

Spurs' transfer dealings have illustrated a dramatic shift away from the policy of recruiting young English players that David Pleat was particularly keen to introduce in his time as director of football.

It seemed to be briefly back in favour when Harry Redknapp signed the Sheffield United players Kyle Walker and Kyle Naughton, as well as personal favourites Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch.

But this summer's dealings have been stark: gone, either permanently or on loan, are Steven Caulker, Scott Parker, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore, four England internationals who made 70 League appearances between them last season (which would have been far more but for Parker's long injury). In their place have come half a dozen foreigners, at vast expense made possible by Gareth Bale's imminent sale.

Andre Villas-Boas defended the strategy before today's game with a familiar argument about prices. "If there was a player in England with the same level, which there are, then it's perfect," he said. "The problem is the valuation practices in England are impossible to be met for the domestic market. Last year we saw a lot of examples that showed it that way. We did business abroad but we could have done it over here. The most important thing for us is to strengthen our side.

"You could make a study on British players involved in domestic record transfers. I can recall [Steven] Fletcher last year from Wolves to Sunderland; from a team that was relegated to a Premier League team. That was for about £10 million. I also remember [Matt] Jarvis, another one, for £12m. These are very, very big amounts."

So, some might argue, are the sums spent on Erik Lamela, Roberto Soldado, Paulinho and the rest. It is not Villas-Boas's job to help the England team, of course. The net effect, however, is of English players at clubs like Tottenham being forced out by foreign imports, almost always to places where they will not be experiencing any European football.

Alternatively, as with promising young talent like Tom Carroll and Harry Kane, they stay but are then restricted to cup games and an occasional substitute's appearance.

Both did well in the dead Europa League tie against Dinamo Tblisi on Thursday night but may yet leave on loan before the transfer window closes tomorrow night.

Hodgson said: "Their path is blocked by extremely talented players. I've worked at Fulham and West Bromwich Albion, and Tom Carroll would probably have played in both of those sides. But he doesn't play for Tottenham. Is that their fault? No, not really. Maybe he's not quite as good as Dembélé, Sandro or Paulinho."

Hodgson praised Spurs, Everton and Liverpool for giving opportunities to youngsters like Andros Townsend, Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling respectively, but the competition to those players has risen in this transfer window: the three clubs have signed more than 15 foreign players between them.

Because of the top clubs' desire to have two accomplished players for every position, it can even be other English players who hold them back. Hodgson cited Ryan Bertrand being kept out of the Chelsea team by Ashley Cole. He could have mentioned Martin Kelly at Liverpool and might have asked how many games Townsend will be given once Aaron Lennon is fit.

"I'm not criticising the judgement of the coaches," he said. "These players are too good to let go but they are finding it hard to get games. As a nation, we must hope that their lack of games will not destroy their careers, because it could happen.

''Chelsea, like me, think that Bertrand is a very good player and want to keep him. But it's tough for his international career because I can't really pick him [for England] when he's not really featuring in a game unless it's the Capital One Cup and it's basically Chelsea reserves."

Meanwhile, it will be a small irony if Arsenal, heavily criticised for not spending more money, beat a new Tottenham side still not used to playing together.

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur is on Sky Sports 1 today, kick-off 4pm

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat