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Smith: Man City seal group-stage place

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Martinez attacks English academies

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez believes there is a dearth of quality English players because they are held back by academy selection policies.

• Carragher: Premier League needs imports
• Brewin: Familiar failings cost England

Spaniard Martinez watched his compatriots lift their third successive major title by beating Italy in the European Championship final on Sunday, with La Roja 's gifted collective lauded the world over for their technical abilities.

England, in contrast, went out of the tournament at the quarter-finals playing a pragmatic and generally defensive style.

Martinez is convinced that Spain's success is down to placing an emphasis on skill rather than results at youth level and believes that technically proficient English teenagers are being ignored in favour of players who are more physically imposing.

"I hate it when people say English players cannot be as technical as Spanish," Martinez said. "The English player is technical. It's in the age of 18-21 we have to improve.

"Iniesta and Xavi would never have made it six years ago in a British team. The first selection is, 'Not tall enough, not strong enough'. That's not right."

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