Roy Hodgson fears English youngsters not getting enough chances
England manager Roy Hodgson is worried Premier League clubs are too scared to take a gamble on young English players.
New records were broken during this summer's transfer window, but one old trend remained. Of the 835 million pounds spent by top-flight sides during the summer, a staggering 530 million pounds went to foreign clubs.
Chelsea and Manchester City spent big on Diego Costa and Eliaquim Mangala respectively, while Manchester United signed Monaco striker Radamel Falcao at the expense of homegrown talent Danny Welbeck, who was sold to Arsenal for 16 million pounds.
Having managed a host of English clubs in the past, Hodgson knows exactly what kind of pressure top-flight coaches are under to deliver, but there was no hiding his unease when he spoke about a blockage caused by foreign imports around the edges of top Premier League squads.
"The major problem is the pathway," he said. "Our academies are doing some good work. There are some good players going through those academies, and the bulk of those are English.
"My fear is we've seen players come through in the past and they're very good at breaking into the under-21s, and getting a sniff at the first-team, but then a vacancy in the first-team comes along, through a player being sold or injured, they've been given a chance.
"But now, with the money the clubs have at their disposal, they are always going to be tempted to not take the chance they would have done in the past if a player was out for a month or two when they had a kid called Wayne Rooney or David Beckham [and thought] 'he looks pretty useful, let's stick him in.'
"I fear they'll say: 'Let's keep him back a bit longer and buy a top-class foreign player.'''
Youth and experience will be prevalent among the England side on Wednesday night when they take on Norway in the first match since their disappointing World Cup campaign.
Hodgson revealed his XI to play at Wembley, which is expected to be less than half full for the first time since it reopened in 2007.
John Stones will make his full England debut in a four-man defence that also contains Phil Jones, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines. Joe Hart will start in goal while Hodgson will deploy a four-strong midfield of Jack Wilshere, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Up front, new captain Wayne Rooney will be partnered by Daniel Sturridge.
Hodgson, who says he understands why many England fans have decided to stay away, was unwilling to describe this match, and next week's qualifier in Switzerland, as the beginning of a new era for the national side.
"The young ones have to step up to the plate and make certain they don't let themselves down," Hodgson said. "I know they won't want to, but they mustn't let themselves down."
Although public interest in the match is low, Hodgson regards the friendly as an important step way to help restore faith in the national side following their poor showing in Brazil, where they failed to qualify for the knockout stages after picking up just one point.
"We would all very much like to get two good results and get that feel-good factor," the former Liverpool boss said. "This is a good time to get two good results, two good performances and to show everyone my faith in the team is justified."
England team to play Norway: Hart, Stones, Jones, Cahill, Baines, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Wilshere, Sterling, Sturridge, Rooney.