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By ESPN Staff

McClaren expresses concern over English players

Steve McClaren has admitted he is concerned at the dwindling number of English players in the top flight.

While the advent of the Premier League has undoubtedly increased the standard of domestic fare in England, and seen some of the game's genuine superstars move to these shores, the acceleration of foreign players has been massive.

Fifteen years ago, the first after the breakaway league was formed, only a handful of continental-born players figured in the respective starting line-ups.

This weekend, the number is set to top 300.

The problem is unlikely to ease any time soon. And, while it could be argued increased competition raises the standard of English players who do make it, the lack of opportunity afforded to home-grown stars is a worry for the future.

During his time at Middlesbrough, McClaren was not afraid to give youth a chance and he is unequivocal in his backing for the FA/McDonald's initiative aimed at boosting the standard and availability of qualified coaching for young players.

The England boss explained: 'I have expressed my concerns about it, even when I was a club manager.

'I was fortunate at Middlesbrough that we had a very good academy that brought through local players.

'I fielded a team full of local talent, so it can be achieved.

'Yes, we still have the players who are in the Champions League and Europe at the top four or five clubs.

'But the platform has to be bigger. The pool of players is going down and we have to address it.

'Thankfully, with initiatives like the McDonald's one, it is starting to happen. It is something the FA are certainly looking at because the whole thing begins with coach development.'