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Weekend Premier League predictions

Premier League
By ESPN Staff

Foreign influx not to blame - Becks

David Beckham is adamant the influx of foreign players to the Barclays Premier League is not to blame for England's failure to qualify for the Euro 2008 finals.

England were beaten 3-2 by Croatia on Wednesday meaning they failed to qualify for a major tournament for the first time since the 1994 World Cup.

The defeat led to Steve McClaren losing his job yesterday after just 15 months at the helm.

But Beckham was quick to dismiss suggestions that the vast quantity of foreign imports to the English game in recent years was responsible for their inability to progress to European football's showpiece event in Austria and Switzerland next summer.

When asked in exclusive interview with children's newspaper First News if too many foreign players were to blame for England's exit, Beckham said: 'I think it's just an excuse, personally.

'Because we got knocked out of the Euros, people are going to look for certain excuses and one of them that was thrown at me was `Are there too many foreigners in the game?'

'For me, foreigners coming into the Premier League and into our country has lifted the profile of the game, it has lifted the quality of the game.

'If you look at statistics, in 74 and 78 when we didn't qualify for the World Cup, there was probably 90% of the English league that was English players.'

While believing the introduction of foreign managers and players to the Premier League has boosted the profile of the domestic game Beckham, who won his 99th cap on Wednesday, is keen to stress it should not be to the detriment of finding talented youngsters in this country.

'Foreign managers, like Arsene Wenger, like (Jose) Mourinho, like Rafa Benitez, have come in and made our game a lot more interesting and brought great players in, and lifted the profile,' he added.

'But then you also have to take into account that we still have to bring players through, still create grassroots football and still create academies like this one (the David Beckham Academy in Greenwich).

'You've got to get the balance right, there's no point in turning round and having the easy option and saying it's because we've got too many foreigners in the game.'