The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE -

AS A kid com­ing through at Notts County in the early 90s, I had to bat­tle pretty hard to make it pro. But com­pared to the young­sters of to­day, I had it easy.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the in­creas­ing num­ber of for­eign play­ers has stunted the growth of young English lads, es­pe­cially at Premier League and Cham­pi­onship level.

It baf­fles me when you see a team line up in the Premier League and the en­tire XI come from abroad. Not be­cause I’m xeno­pho­bic or any­thing sin­is­ter like that. Sim­ply be­cause, as a coun­try, I think we have a duty to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of our own young­sters.

We’ve been blessed with some great for­eign tal­ent in this coun­try and no­body is say­ing we should ban it al­to­gether.

You look at peo­ple like Gian­franco Zola, Thierry Henry, David Gi­nola – no­body can say they haven’t been a ben­e­fit to English football.

But there has to be a bal­ance. Yes, let’s in­vite the best play­ers to come and show what they can do. But let’s not have for­eign play­ers signed to fill gaps in a squad, sit­ting down in the re­serve league or play­ing in the Un­der-21s as an over-age player.

That’s no ben­e­fit to any­one. It’s just deny­ing some­body the chance to de­velop. And that’s all they need. You look at some­body like Jamie Vardy, who’s been right down through the Non-League pyra­mid. These lads are more than ca­pa­ble but if you don’t try them, you’ll never know.

For now, all I can do is my small part. I’ve just started work­ing as an Un­der-21 coach at Cardiff and the club have said they want a sup­ply line of play­ers for our man­ager Rus­sell Slade. That’s great to hear and hope­fully I’ll be see­ing some of my lads out on the pitch soon.

Long term, I’d like to see rules whereby a cer­tain amount of play­ers in any first-team squad must be English. For­eign play­ers are great, but our own shouldn’t suf­fer as a re­sult.

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