Gareth Southgate has bemoaned the scarcity of English qualified players getting regular matches in the Premier League ahead of the final round of Euro 2020 qualification matches for his England side.
The coach pointed to the fact that less than half the players on the pitch for Sunday's match between Liverpool and Manchester City will be eligible to represent the Three Lions.
Although there has been a small uptick in the percentage of English-qualified players this season compared to last, the national team manager doesn’t think it’s enough and believes the Reds and City match is indicative of the trend.
“Well, it used to be double that,” Southgate said when told up to six English players would play in Sunday’s game.
“So that’s probably a bigger sign of the times, that we won’t have half the players on the field eligible for us. Then we have to pick up the pieces of that game.
“That’s the difficulty from our perspective but those that are playing are of good quality and, of course, it’s a huge game for all of them.”
“We’re a few per cent higher this year, which is a positive step. You can see even by that small shift that we have two or three players we are picking now that we wouldn’t have had a chance to pick last season. I think I’ve said enough about eligibility issues and the numbers, but the reality is still different from that of the last few decades.”
Southgate alluded to some new English talent, such as Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham of Chelsea, that have come through but he’s still forced to pick players who aren’t getting regular games for their clubs.
That contingent includes John Stones of City and Liverpool’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Southgate thinks their top-level experience helps their cause, and their team-mates.
“In the ideal scenario you want players that are playing in matches where they’re pushing to win trophies,” he went on.
“The extra pressure that comes with those games is what you have to deal with [when you are] with England.
“When you’re playing for big clubs, there’s a responsibility to perform every week. With lesser clubs, sometimes you can lose and there isn’t a big inquest.
“Of course there is one within the club and locally but with the big clubs that’s national. The profile is just bigger and it’s closer to what they face with the national team.”
England face Montenegro on November 14 and Kosovo three days later in their last international matches of 2019.