Fabio Capello has announced his squad for Wednesday’s friendly with France and one name in the squad will certainly cause England fans to raise an eyebrow. Cardiff striker Jay Bothroyd has received a surprise call-up and while it is a fitting reward for the 28-year-old’s impressive start to the season, it does make you think about the strength of English footballers in the Premier League.
When the Premier League was launched it would have been almost unthinkable to see player from outside the top flight representing England. But now Bothroyd’s call-up could open the door for more lower league players to represent the Three Lions.
More and more English players who would have previously easily managed to play in the top-flight, are now dropping in to the lower leagues in a quest for regular first-team football.
This has meant that there is a general lack of options for Capello in the Premier League, and in the future you have to feel that there will be a much greater number of players from outside the top flight in contention for places in the England squad, and this can only damage England’s chances of success.
If you look at Spain all of their squad are playing in not only Europe’s top leagues, but for the top sides and England will not be able to mould top players if their international players aren’t able to test themselves against the world’s best on a regular basis.
The lack of English players in the Premier League means that when a good young player emerges they are often fast-tracked in to the England frame. This is exactly what Capello has done with the inclusion of Jordan Henderson, Andy Carroll and Chris Smalling who despite their tender age and lack of real experience have been called-up for the game at Wembley.
England are looking to follow the German example of giving young players a chance and in many ways there is no problem with this. In years to come Carroll, Smalling and Henderson look set to be key parts of the England set-up, so why not give them the experience at a young age?
While Carroll might miss the game through injury the experience of been part of the England camp can only be of benefit to him, and the same goes for Henderson and Smalling if they don’t feature on Wednesday night.
But in an ideal world Capello would love to see a much greater pool of English players in the Premier League for him to choose from, so he wouldn’t have to rush his youngsters through or include players who haven’t proved they can do it at the top level.
This isn’t going to happen overnight though, and while the home-grown player rules that were introduced for this season may have some impact in increasing the percentage of English players in the league you have to feel that there will never be the same number as of when the Premier League was launched.
The Premier League is now a global industry and unfortunately the England team has, and will continue to suffer as a result.
England squad to face France on Wednesday: Foster (Birmingham), Hart (Man City), Green (West Ham); Gibbs (Arsenal), Cole (Chelsea), Terry (Chelsea), Jagielka (Everton), Lescott (Man City), Richards (Man City), Ferdinand (Man Utd), Smalling (Man Utd); Walcott (Arsenal), Wilshere (Arsenal), Young (Aston Villa), Gerrard (Liverpool), Barry (Man City), Johnson (Man City), Milner (Man City), Henderson (Sunderland); Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Bothroyd (Cardiff), Carroll (Newcastle), Crouch (Tottenham), Cole (West Ham).