England

Hodgson expects pool to get smaller

England coach Roy Hodgson (R) talks to Gary Neville ahead of the Ukraine match.
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England head coach Roy Hodgson anticipates the shrinking pool of talent he can pick from will continue to get smaller - and expects no sympathy from club managers in terms of their selection policy.

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Only 32% of the players who turned out in the nine Barclays Premier League fixtures immediately prior to the current international break were English qualified.

The problem was highlighted ahead of Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier with Ukraine at Wembley after Hodgson was forced to call in reinforcements after players withdrew through illness or injury.

Hodgson drafted in Tottenham midfielder Jake Livermore - who made his England debut against Italy last month - and uncapped duo Adam Lallana (Southampton) and Raheem Sterling (Liverpool).

The England boss is aware the percentage of players available for him is unlikely to improve.

He said: "We can't deny that. Would I prefer to have a reverse of that statistic, with 68% of players being English? Of course I would.

"But that's not going to happen. The Premier League is fantastic. But it embraces all the top European players.

"One of the other facts we can't deny is the top clubs know where the best talent is, and often go out and buy it.

"That top talent, at a young age, finds it difficult to break into the team because of the established European talent in front of them."

Former West Brom boss Hodgson added: "Every club manager has only one duty - to his club. We, as England, can't start asking clubs to consider us when they're making decisions about their players.

"We just have to hope that the English talent that's being produced - and it will be because we have good academy systems - are still to be considered by their club managers and are good enough."

Hodgson chooses to believes the players he is selecting are there on merit rather than because the cupboard is bare with 10 senior players absent for the Ukraine clash.

He said: "I'd like to think they're there because they have the talent to be there, even if the numbers of games they can boast is relatively small.

"Their timing of getting into our thoughts has corresponded when a lot of others who would have been selected have been absent.

"But opportunities often come along when others lose theirs for one reason or another.

"Those we invited for the Italy game, and others - (Ryan) Bertrand, (Kyle) Walker, (Daniel) Sturridge, (Danny) Welbeck, (Alex) Oxlade-Chamberlain - have created a good impression on myself and my staff, and the senior players."

Hodgson hopes 17-year-old Sterling will choose to play for England even though he is also eligible to be chosen for Jamaica.

He said: "Raheem might have Jamaican roots but he has been born and brought up in England and has got the ability to play for the England national team.

"I'd like to think he would prefer that and would choose us over Jamaica but if that is his desire, we would have to accept that.

"I've not him invited here because I'm worried about overtures from other countries but because he is a potential England player of the near future, not distant future."

Theo Walcott was the latest player to withdraw - through illness - but Hodgson is hoping Sturridge will have recovered from stomach cramp.

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