World Cup Qualifiers: English pool too small to challenge

I am not a lover of Roy Hogdson being the England manager because he is too negative - his first option is for England not to be embarrassed.

But, having said that, he is battling the odds and his job is getting harder and harder simply because he is running out of tools.

There are not enough players playing regularly for their clubs and there isn't any "wow" factor or heated discussions about why one player deserves to be in the England squad over another.

Back when I was a player, there were six or seven players in each position who were battling for a spot in the squad. But it is not the same now, not even close.

It takes Hodgson about two minutes to name his squad these days because he has got no one else.

Ross Barkley has been called up and he is not even a regular at Everton; and then there is Southampton striker Rickie Lambert.

I am not having a go at him. He has scored two goals in two games against Scotland and Moldova, and he is now in line to start against Ukraine. But he is really only playing because he is the only forward available.

Typical response

It does not really matter if it is Hodgson or anyone else in charge, the problem is that there aren't enough English players playing in the league.

We cannot have the typical English response to this - with the stiff upper lip - of not wanting to offend people.

We have to be fearless and say that we have to stop denying our countrymen an opportunity to play in our league.

We do need foreign players and coaches, but only the best, so we can learn from them.

Look at what Japan and South Korea have done. They bring in the best, learn best practices and good habits from them, then give more opportunities to their home-grown talents.

That is one of the big reasons that they have improved so much that now you see players from both countries playing all over the world.

What I would like to see in England is an implementation of a policy that ensures a certain number of homegrown British-born players in clubs' squads and perhaps have at least six in the 18-man matchday squad.

And that is important because we need our young players to know that if they are good enough, they can play for a big club and not spend most of their time out on loan then return to the club and go out on loan somewhere else.

But, as it stands, the academy system has a lot to answer for and we do need to seriously work on our youth development programmes.

We always say that we are going to go out there and win something, but let us not kid ourselves - people are laughing at England.

We do not have players playing regularly for their clubs - even at top clubs - and players are ring-rusty and intimidated during international games when facing quality players.

Hodgson's toolbox is getting smaller and smaller and, at the moment, he is going about his job with a screwdriver, when what he needs is a spanner.

With all this going on, how can we expect to go out there and beat the Dutch, the Germans and the Spaniards? Anyone who thinks that can happen is kidding himself.

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