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Ashworth: England have fallen behind

The Football Association's director of elite development has set a target of closing the gap on the best footballing nations in terms of technical ability after admitting that England have fallen behind.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Dan Ashworth has echoed the views of former England defender Rio Ferdinand who said on Friday that English football is lacking a recognisable DNA.

Ashworth, recruited by the FA from West Brom where he worked successfully alongside Roy Hodgson, believes that a core of players in the England team who are comfortable in possession is key in attempting to challenge for success at major tournaments.

He said: "When you look back at the likes of Chris Waddle and Paul Gascoigne, we always would have a series of match-winners in our teams, technical players.

"Without being disrespectful to our current players, we are now further behind some other nations and we have to make sure that gap decreases. We have to have a more technically based game and players who are more comfortable on the ball.

"My vision, my dream, is that there's a philosophy on how we play the game from the cradle to the grave.

"We have to change years and years and years of ingrained habits of encouraging children to smash the ball up the pitch, applauding when they smash it further and longer. We have to avoid criticising when children try skills."

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