Top clubs are 'helping England's opponents,' says Blatter

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The Independent Football

England's failure to reach Euro 2008 was partly due to Premier League clubs helping overseas players reach the peak of their game and benefiting their own countries, the Fifa president, Sepp Batter, said yesterday.

Blatter, speaking in Zurich, said: "It is a fact that in the strongest English teams the best players are not always English. So where are the best English players coming from? They are coming from the less strong teams, which is weakening the English national team. What is happening in England is that the best teams are preparing the national team players for England's opponents."

Fifa yesterday announced it will not wipe England's friendly against Trinidad & Tobago from the record books despite a mistake over substitutions. The game's world governing body did not give special dispensation for seven rather than the maximum of six substitutions, but said that it had been a mistake by the referee Enrico Wijngaarde.

Several England players made their first appearances in the 3-0 win which helped England move back inside the world's top 10 teams. The decision will be a relief for the FA.