McClaren: Too few English players in Premier League
Whether England succeed or fail in their bid to reach Euro 2008, coach Steve McClaren feels there has to be a thorough examination for the deeper reasons behind the Three Lions' continued failure to punch their weight at international level.
While major European rivals Germany and Italy routinely reach the latter stages of big tournaments and France have already enjoyed glory years during the eras of Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane, for England it has largely been 40 years of unrelenting hurt since the World Cup glory day in 1966.
Even if England receive a massive favour from Israel next Saturday and eventually go on to beat Croatia and book their place in next summer's European Championships, few will expect McClaren to guide his team to glory in Austria and Switzerland.
'There will always be a debate around the England team but maybe some people will look a little bit deeper, they certainly should, whether we qualify or not,' he said.
'The number of English players in the Premier League has come down to 38%. That is not enough.
'Also, someone told me that in one of the recent rounds of the Champions League, there were more Scottish players involved than English ones.
'Some reality has to come into it. Of course, the sheer numbers of foreign players in the Premier League cuts down my options.'
Finding a remedy for the problem is not going to be easy.
European employment law prevents the imposition of quotas, which England's major clubs would forcefully fight the blanket imposition of any way given their need to tackle the biggest sides on the continent.
Rather than artificial restrictions, the answer is to improve the standard of domestic youngsters, something the FA's director of football development, Sir Trevor Brooking - with the backing of chief executive Brian Barwick - is already heavily involved in.
However, Brooking's analysis means there will be no short-term fix. The former England international knows where it is all going wrong, between the ages of five and 12.
'We have to improve our coaches and our coaching development, that is the FA's responsibility,' said McClaren.
'I don't think anyone is being critical about clubs bringing in foreign players, it is about finding more English ones because the talent is there.'