TOM NELSON: While the English Premier League is arguably the most popular in the world, it is facing a series of internal challenges that are impacting heavily on the national team.
As of October this year, just 32pc of all Premier League players were home-grown, as clubs continue to source cheaper and more experienced employees from abroad. The consequence of this is that a growing number of talented English players are being forced to play in the lower leagues, whether through a temporary loan or having been released by a major club.
The case of Championship player Tom Ince reflects the issues facing the British game, as the Blackpool forward has struggled to make a mark on the top flight despite his immense talent.
Initially a product of the famed Liverpool youth system, his lack of first team opportunities forced him to seek out regular football at Blackpool in the Championship.
He has also been phenomenal at his new club with six goals it is clear his dad who manages the club has been making him hit the Fitness Warehouse treadmills hard to keep up his impeccable fitness. However now an established England U-21 international, he still harbours dreams of returning to Anfield and becoming a recognized top flight performer to gain the exposure desperately needed to become a full England international.
Other players have followed a similar path, as the Championship and lower divisions are littered with representatives who either belong to top flight clubs or have been released by the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal.
In fact, two of the Championship’s most consistent performers this season have been Nick Powell and Jesse Lindgard, who despite displaying outstanding skills are on loan because they have been unable to earn playing time at Manchester United. This gives cause for concern, especially at a time when the England national team are struggling to evolve.
While some may argue that the lack of top-flight British players owes more to a lack of technical proficiency that it does to the influx of foreign employees, the qualities of individuals like Tom Ince suggests that this may be inaccurate.
It is also important to note that young English players will only reach their full potential by playing and training regularly with experienced performers, and those that are forced to ply their trade in the lower leagues may ultimately miss this opportunity. With this in mind, it is imperative that the FA looks to intervene and create legislation which encourages clubs to develop their home-grown talent.