Gareth Southgate scouting Championship to fill England squad as number of homegrown Prem players drops to worrying low | The SunMarch 17, 2023
GARETH SOUTHGATE will look to the Championship after an alarming drop in home-grown Premier League players.
But he remains bullish over England’s Euro 2024 hopes after naming his 25-man squad for qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine next week.
In recent weeks, the number of English players starting Prem games has dropped to a season-low of 28 per cent.
Boss Southgate said: “The numbers are not going up. The 28 percentage has happened in a couple of weekends in the last few weeks.
“It has been around 32 but that’s down from 35 when I took over and 38 in the years before. The concern would be the most recent trend.
“We’ve got four left-footed left-backs in the league at the moment so we will have to start looking in the Championship.
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“In January, there were 55 transfer deals and 44 were players that were either new foreign players coming in or the two that were here already — Jorginho and Albert Sambi Lokonga.
“Of the English deals a couple of those were second or third-choice goalkeepers, three were youth transfers — one was Romeo Beckham — so that’s 80 per cent of the deals coming in through January were non-English.
“That impact of January has played out in the last couple of weeks. If we keep going in that direction it is clear that those numbers are going to drop again.”
Southgate is positive about his chances of winning a major tournament with England but cited the case of Thursday’s opponents Italy, who missed out on the Qatar World Cup.
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He said: “We know there is still a step for us to take.
"Yes, we want to be European champions and we’ve had a lot of experiences that could help us to get there but as our opponents next week found, you can very quickly be in trouble qualifying.
"We’ve got to respect the challenge that qualifying holds for us.”
Malta and North Macedonia also await the Three Lions in Group C.
Asked if he would have stayed on had he thought England could not win Euro 2024, he said: “I don’t know. But I do think we can — that’s the challenge.
“The scenario of going to Italy, where we haven’t won for decades is a classic of the type of game that we’ve got to start winning. If we are looking for the next step to take as a team, that is it.”
England play in a hostile Naples and have actually not won in Italy since 1961.
One player lucky to be involved in the squad is Kalvin Phillips, who has made only two starts at Manchester City.
Southgate explained: “Well, if you look in the Premier League, who can play as a single-pivot defensive midfielder?
"You’d be talking Declan Rice and Phillips while Jordan Henderson has done it for Liverpool but it’s not his number one position.
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“So yes, that’s why we’re picking Kalvin. We think he’s a bloody good player and to get in Man City’s team is much harder than to get into other teams.
“Is it perfect he’s not getting as many minutes as we’d like? No. But we still think he’s the best option to help us.”
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