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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

English kids are technically inferior, claims Brooking

Sir Trevor Brooking has claimed that young English footballers lag behind their foreign counterparts - forcing Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to import rather than use domestic talent.

Wenger was heavily criticised for fielding an entirely foreign squad in the recent Champions League fixture against Real Madrid as the Gunners sealed their place in the quarter-finals.

West Ham counterpart Alan Pardew was particularly vociferous but Football Association director of football development Brooking believes Wenger's hands are tied.

'I'm sure Arsene Wenger would love a team of Englishmen, but his priority is a successful side, regardless of nationality,' Brooking told the Daily Mail.

'My challenge as director of football development is to lead a programme of skills development in our young generation that makes clubs look locally first when searching for talented, technically-accomplished players.

'The harsh fact is that many clubs feel our teenage hopefuls are a long way behind the technical skills of their European counterparts.

'Although, thankfully, there are some notable exceptions, I have to agree with the overall judgement that we have some major catching-up to rectify this problem.

'Only around 40% of first-team players in the Premiership are English, as compared to around 65% of Spanish players in La Liga, for example,' said the former England international.

'With an overall population of nearly 16 million people, I do not believe we are producing the depth of talent we should and I would like to make competition for places that much harder.'