LONDON, England - England manager Roy Hodgson believes young English players are being harmed by Premier League clubs who do not play them but are fearful of letting them leave.
A study produced by the Guardian newspaper last month revealed that only 33 per cent of the players who started Premier League games on the opening weekend of the season qualified to play for England.
That represents the worst figure in the post-1992 Premier League era and leaves the English top flight trailing well behind rival championships in Spain, Italy, Germany and France.
The apparent shallowness of the English talent pool was demonstrated on two occasions during the close season, when England's representative sides went out of the Under-21 European Championship and the Under-20 World Cup without winning a game between them.
Hodgson, however, feels that the fault lies with English clubs stockpiling players and does not believe the statistics point to a diminishing level of ability in the English game.
"The other thing you should look at is the number of players at the top clubs who the clubs rate unbelievably highly and who would be first-team starters in probably a lot of Premiership clubs were they not playing for the top four or five clubs, where their way is blocked by extremely talented players," he told journalists during a briefing at Wembley.
"I'll give you an example - Tom Carroll, at Tottenham Hotspur. I've worked with Premiership clubs - I've worked at Fulham, I've worked at West Bromwich Albion - and Tom Carroll would have played in probably the Fulham team and the West Brom team.
"But he doesn't play for Tottenham. Now is that Tottenham's fault? No, not really, because maybe he's not quite as good as Paulinho or (Mousa) Dembele or Sandro or Scott Parker (now of Fulham).
"I'm not criticising the judgement of the coaches. I'm just saying, these players do exist."