Friday 19 January 2018

Taylor welcomes step in the right direction

Players' chief Gordon Taylor has welcomed the introduction of the new 25-man squad rules for Premier League clubs - but will not be happy until more English youngsters are regularly making the first XI.

Despite suggestions a number of high-profile stars would miss out when all 20 top-flight sides submitted their lists, there were no major omissions - although Tottenham did not include long-term injury absentee Jonathan Woodgate.

Indeed, many teams did not even need the full 25 allocation, with a large number naming a lengthy list of players aged 21 and under - which include Arsenal's trio of England internationals, Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere.

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Taylor believes the system will provide dividends in the long run, but admitted it did not go far enough

"It is something which the PFA strongly approve of, because for a long time we have been concerned about the millions going into youth development and the success rate has just not been good enough," Taylor told Press Association Sport.

"If we had been a university, we would have been closed down. With something like 600 youngsters getting into the game at all levels at 16, you have 500 who are out of it by the time they are 21.

"There is a gap for these breaking through, and they are internationals at under-17, 18 and 19. Some of them go out on loan, but they are just not getting opportunities.

"We have already seen this season some managers have been dismissed. They are judged almost instantly and are always wanting instant success, so they do not have the patience or time [for young players] when they can go out and buy a ready-made international, so that is counting against youngsters being given a chance.

"However, when injuries come along, or circumstances which see opportunities thrown up for youngsters, the kids have shown they can take it."

Taylor continued: "It is good that clubs have not always gone to the full 25, because they know they can have unlimited under-21 lads.

"If you are a player, you want to be playing - it is a short career and if you are a senior player who can't get into a squad of 25, then maybe it is time to move on.

"We also do not want to see clubs hoarding players, guys who are getting splinters sitting on the bench - that is not good for the game."

Given the strict rules on freedom of movement within the European Union, football will never be able to implement any tight restrictions on teams to play English talent, as the new guidelines class home-grown as youngsters who have been schooled at domestic clubs rather than specific to nationality.

Taylor, though, feels it is a step in the right direction.

"The fact we are in Europe means we cannot discriminate against non-English players, but at least our own youngsters will be on the same level playing field as foreign youngsters," he said.

"Countries like Germany have capitalised on the situation, with lads coming in from Poland and Turkey, who have wanted to apply for German nationality, and then they are available.

"However, I won't be happy until there at least two or three English youngsters who are starting in the Premier League games."

Press Association

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