Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson plays down concern at lack of English players in the Premier League

National team woes have been placed at the door of the Premier League

Sven-Goran Eriksson, the man who was in charge of England's 'Golden Generation', insists there is no need to panic about the current lack of home-grown talent in the Barclays Premier League.

Shortly after assuming his role as Football Association chairman, Greg Dyke set up a commission tasked with trying to reverse the steep decline in the number of Englishmen playing regularly in the top flight.

Last season just 32 per cent of players used by Premier League clubs were English, whereas during Eriksson's time, the number of home-grown players was much higher.

Between 2001 and 2006 the Swede had the privilege of being able to pick the likes of David Beckham, Michael Owen and Paul Scholes when they were all in their prime.

Dyke's commission will assess the possibility of trying to cap the number of foreign players in the top division.

Eriksson feels that is unfeasible, and he also believes that the best of the young English talent will make it through to the first-team regardless of the number of foreigners around.

"In one way it should be better if there were less foreigners in the Premier League, but I think it's very difficult to do that," Eriksson told Press Association Sport.

"In the European Union, giving people the right to work in any country in Europe would be very difficult. But anyhow, the good young English players, they will all come through."

Dyke wants the commission, which includes England boss Roy Hodgson and other figures from within the game, to hear evidence from former Three Lions managers, and Eriksson would be delighted to give his views.

"If I am invited then I will come to talk about that, absolutely," said the Swede, who was speaking at the launch of his autobiography, Sven: My Story, which was published on Tuesday.

"If that could help the future of English football then of course (I would come). I would be interested in that."

In his autobiography, Eriksson lifts the lid on his turbulent five-year stint as England boss.

The 65-year-old, who now manages Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F, talks about the agony of being knocked out on penalties twice against Portugal, and being defeated by 10-man Brazil in the 2002 World Cup,

He also talks about his "futile" struggle to get the English authorities to introduce a winter break to help the national team - a frustration he describes as like "banging your head against the wall".

Eriksson makes no effort to conceal who he thinks was responsible.

"It was clear that the Premier League controlled English football," Eriksson writes at one point.

Still, Eriksson, who left his post in 2006 after a newspaper sting, looks back fondly on his time with England, and it is clear that the national team still holds a place in his heart.

"England has a good team going to the World Cup," the former Lazio manager said when asked what he thought of England's current side.

"They qualified in style, they played good football. "And there was no doubt about who was best in that group."

Eriksson does not hold out much hope of England challenging for next year's tournament in Brazil, though.

"I hope that they will do better than the quarter-finals, maybe the semi-finals, but it's not easy to win it in Brazil," he said.

"If they did that it would be absolutely fantastic. But there aren't any teams from Europe who have won it in South America. It's very difficult. Brazil and Spain are the big favourites."

PA

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