LONDON. — Glenn Hoddle has called on the English Premier League to introduce a quota system to protect the England national soccer team.
Ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers with Moldova and Ukraine, the former national team boss told The Footballers’ Football Show that the continuing influx of foreign players to the English Premier League is harming the prospects of young, home-grown talent.
Of the 41 players signed by the top seven sides in the English Premier League during the summer transfer window only two are eligible to play for England — Gareth Barry, who joined Everton on loan, and Liverpool’s new London-born Portuguese defender Tiago Llori.
Hoddle believes statistics such as that demonstrate the urgent need for action on the issue — and suggested a rule change be introduced to force English Premier League teams to field a certain number of English players.
“It really is a concern,” said the ex-Chelsea boss who managed England from 1996 to 1999.
“We’ve got foreign owners, who bring in foreign managers, who bring in foreign players above English players and it’s a downward spiral.
“The pool (of English players in the English Premier League) has gone down from 48% in 1998-99, when I was manager, to 32% this season.
“With the transfer market as it is at the moment, there are so many foreigners coming in and that number is going to dwindle.
“The England manager’s job is a hard job as it is and it’s going to get harder and harder unless we readdress it with a rule change.
“You’ll get challenged from courts in Europe but for our English team to be successful we have to do something.”
Hoddle fears that young English talent — unlike their counterparts across Europe — are being denied vital opportunities to develop at the highest level and says expensive foreign imports are blocking the way for the country’s next generation.
He also argued that England need a whole host of players, rather than an elite few, competing at the top of the English Premier League to take the national team forward.
“You talk about Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla coming in and playing together at Arsenal, but what’s going to happen to Jack Wilshere? He’s one of our best youngsters,” said Hoddle.
“And the lad Ross Barkley at Everton — he’s a hell of a young player and could play for England in the future but he has to get his opportunities.
“They’re just two examples of top talent that could really flourish if they played game after game over the next four or five years.
“In Spain the league is still full of Spanish players. There are top players there like Lionel Messi, but there’s probably 60% of the players who are Spanish.
“Germany have got lots of young German players playing in the German league, while Italy have a lot of young Italians playing at their top clubs.
“The likes of Isco, playing at Real Madrid, is going to be able to learn his trade and flourish — and probably take over from Andres Iniesta and Xavi in Spain’s midfield.
“They say the cream comes to the top — and yes, you’ll always have a Rio Ferdinand or Wayne Rooney — but you can’t build an international team on one player.
“You have to have great players to play with a couple of world class players — if you have that then you can go and rule the world, as Spain have.”
Meanwhile, Theo Walcott believes England have enough attacking quality in their ranks to cover the loss of Wayne Rooney to injury.
Manchester United striker Rooney will sit out the crucial World Cup qualifying double-header against Moldova and Ukraine after suffering a nasty cut to the head.
An accidental collision with Old Trafford teammate Phil Jones has left the 27-year-old sporting a lengthy gash on his forehead — forcing him to miss big games for club and country.
England boss Roy Hodgson does have plenty of firepower at his disposal, though, with United forward Danny Welbeck and Southampton hit-man Rickie Lambert having opened the season in fine form.
Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge could also come into the mix — after netting three match-winning goals in as many Premier League outings — but he sat out training on Tuesday with a thigh complaint.
On the options available to Hodgson, Arsenal forward Walcott said: “It is sad to see Wayne out, but it is an opportunity for someone to come in and take their chance.
“Danny Welbeck has started the season well for his club and Rickie Lambert has had a great start to his England career, so the manager has some great options and I am sure he knows what to do.”
Walcott, who says England must “respect” Moldova at Wembley on Friday as they look to take another step towards Brazil 2014, is not surprised to see Rooney sidelined for the foreseeable future, with the United man currently resembling “something out of a horror film”.
Pointing to a 500ml water bottle on the top table of his Press conference at St George’s Park on Tuesday, Walcott said of the injury: “It’s about that big. It’s a very big gash.
“It is not a nice sight to be honest. It is not going to help his looks. It’s not very nice to see. It’s like something out of a horror film.”
Better news for England was the prospect of Jack Wilshere taking part in training yesterday after recovering from a stomach bug.
Walcott said of his long-term Arsenal teammate: “When he stepped up to train with the first team, I knew this 15-year-old was going to be very special. — Sky Sports.