Gareth Southgate: England turning the corner on homegrown players

Eighteen months ago Southgate warned things had to change

Eighteen months ago Southgate warned things had to change

ENGLAND manager Gareth Southgate says young homegrown players are finally “getting their chance and showing their ability” in this country.

Two years ago, a frustrated Southgate complained “we can’t allow the trend to continue” after the number of England-qualified players starting in the Premier League hit an all-time low.

On matchday 14 of 2018/19, just 54 of the 220 Premier League starters were England-qualified (24.5%), with Chelsea and Newcastle contributing zero to the total.

Overall in that season, 30% of the starters were England-qualified, yet the proportion has improved significantly since then to 40% this season, according to research by the Football Association.

“Only 18 months or so ago, every Saturday about 30% of the league (were) English-qualified players,” Southgate told Talksport in an exclusive interview. “This year that’s up to 40% and that doesn’t seem a lot, but when you think that the likes of perhaps an Emile Smith Rowe, for example, getting his opportunity at Arsenal.

“We know those kids are there, we know the talent is there. Of course when the buying and spending power of the clubs is greater than anything around Europe and the pressure is on to have immediate success, it’s much easier and quicker to go and buy a finished product from abroad who’s got a couple of seasons behind them.

“There was always this blockage if you like for young English players going in. Now, they’re getting their chance and they’re showing (their ability). (Bukayo) Saka and Smith Rowe have been a huge breath of fresh air in their team and there are more across the country if they get the opportunity.”

Southgate said the young Arsenal duo were examples of “a different type of player” coming through, because of their technical ability and creativity.

“What’s really exciting is that for years we’ve talked about development in English football and where are the creative players, how do we develop those types of players,” Southgate said.

“We’ve had root and branch reviews of everything from, you know, grassroots football to Academy football to everything for decades and we’ve now [got them].

“I think huge credit to the clubs but also even junior football. When I go and watch junior football played on the local parks we’re able to see the style that kids play, the skill level.

“You go into the cages in the inner cities and see the talent. There’s raw talent and there’s a different type of player, a different skill level coming through which is hugely exciting.”

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