Opening the door: England manager Sam Allardyce considers foreign-born players
He pointed to England’s cricket and rugby teams as examples of national sides who have successfully integrated foreign-born players into their squads
The dwindling English talent pool in the Premier League may leave England’s new manager Sam Allardyce with no option but to naturalise overseas-born players, he said on Monday.
After naming his squad for England’s opening 2018 World Cup qualifier in Slovakia on Sunday, Allardyce revealed he had made an unsuccessful attempt to call up Sevilla’s French midfielder Steven N’Zonzi.
The move was blocked by Fifa due to N’Zonzi having played for France’s Under-21 team, but with only around 35 per cent of Premier League starters being English, Allardyce wants to keep his options open.
Asked if he should not be giving priority to players born in England, Allardyce said: “It happens in all the other countries though.
“The shortage of English players in the Premier League, I think it is only 31 per cent.
“If those don’t play on a regular basis, surely if you are going to win something and that player is of the calibre to force his way into that side, then you give him an opportunity?
“It’s a very delicate subject, I agree with you. I’ll have to see if I actually do it one day how it’s perceived across the nation.
“If he goes out and scores the winner, will it be quite that bad?”
Raheem Sterling, who was born in Jamaica, is the only overseas-born player in Allardyce’s current squad after the Manchester City winger moved to England when he was five.
Allardyce pointed to England’s cricket and rugby teams as examples of national sides who have successfully integrated foreign-born players into their squads.
“Cricket do it, don’t they?” he said.
“Rugby do it, athletics do it. It’s not happening anyway, so we can cover that again if it does.”
Allardyce also revealed that England’s Football Association was actively on the lookout for non-native players who might qualify to play for the national team.
“It’s not my department to find those,” he said when asked if he had other foreign-born players in mind.
“We have a department to look at the whole situation at all areas for every international team.”
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