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By ESPN Staff

Influx of foreigners harming England - Brooking

LONDON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Trevor Brooking, English soccer's director of development, says that England's long-term chances of success are being undermined by the rising number of foreign players in the Premier League.

Brooking, who earned 47 caps for England during his playing career, told the BBC's Inside Sport television programme that there was now a lack of depth of talent in key positions in English soccer.

'(The national team) has to be under threat - the numbers show that. I don't think you can underestimate it. It's a major concern. In 10 years' time you don't want us just being pleased to qualify for tournaments.'

His comments came on the day a report showed that English clubs spent more money on new players than ever before - but that much of it was spent abroad on foreign players.

Research by the BBC showed that while 76 percent of the starting lineups that played on the first weekend of the first Premier League season in 1992-93 were English, only 37 percent were English on the first weekend of this season three weeks ago.

Only 10 percent (23 players) of the starting XIs in 1992 were from outside Britain, while this season that number had increased to 56 percent (123).

So far 118 goals have been scored in the first few weeks of the season, but only nine have been scored by seven English strikers.

Figures release by a Deloitte survey said disclosed transfer fees - the ones were the fee involved was made public - saw spending by Premier League clubs rise from 333 million pounds in 2006 to a record 531 million this summer but half of that money went to non-English clubs.

Brooking said that the foreign players are depriving domestic talent of first-team football which was having a detrimental effect on England's chances of challenging at major tournaments.

'Last year about 40 per cent of starting XIs in the Premier League were English,' he said.

'With all the buying that has gone on over the summer that will probably fall to under a third. Will there be first-team opportunities for some of our youngsters between 17 and 21?

'If you look at Italy when they won the last World Cup, I think they had over 70 per cent of their league made up of domestic players. Spain, France, Holland, they're all up there too. Germany aren't much better than us but we're the lowest.

'The more that goes down, and the pool of choice reduces, we must come under pressure. In 10 years' time you don't want us just being pleased to qualify for tournaments.'

With England about to play Israel and Russia in two crucial Euro 2008 qualifiers over the next eight days, Brooking said he was particularly worried about the lack of attacking options open to England Head Coach Steve McClaren.

McClaren is without injured striker Wayne Rooney and with Peter Crouch suspended for the Israel ganme, England have called up Emile Heskey for the first time in three seasons and included uncapped Ashley Young for the first time.

'We've got a good nucleus now but after that is there enough coming through?' asked Brooking.

'We have nowhere near the depth we should have and that will be an issue as soon as you pick up injuries. We have that now in attack with the senior squad and we're struggling to find a replacement.'