Gerrard supports calls to restrict foreign players

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Watford (England) Nov 15: England's stand-in captain Steven Gerrard has added his support to the debate about restricting foreign players in the Premier League.

The debate was sparked this week by Reading manager Steve Coppell, who said there were too many foreign players in the Premier League and that quotas should be introduced because it was damaging the England team.

''I am all for there being a rule change,'' Gerrard told a news conference on Wednesday. ''Something has got to happen otherwise there will be more and more foreigners and they will take over.'' Under EU law, however, footballers, like every profession or trade, have unrestricted access to work in member countries and introducing quotas would take the Premier League into a legal minefield.

Gerrard, preparing for tomorrow's friendly against Austria before England's final Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia next week, is still in favour of such a plan.

''I am sure the quotas idea won't do any harm,'' he said. ''I am sure it will help the national team. We want as many homegrown players playing in that league as possible.

''As an England player, we want top players involved in the squad and I am sure the quotas will help.

''I think there is a risk of too many foreign players coming over which will affect our national team eventually -- if it is not doing it now.

''It is pointless having the best league in the world if our national team is going to suffer in the long run.''

MISSING OUT

England are in danger of missing out on a place in next year's European Championship finals.

Although they lie second in qualifying Group E behind Croatia, they will be overtaken if Russia win their last two games against Israel and Andorra. Croatia will secure the other qualifying spot if they get a draw against Macedonia on Saturday.

''There is a concern that this talent will stop coming through if foreigners do take over our league,'' Gerrard said. ''We are proud to say we have one of the best leagues in the world.

''The most important thing is we have one of the best national teams as well and that will only happen if we keep producing good young talent like we have done over the years.'' Coppell described the current structure of English football as ''a recipe for non-success at international level''.

''We're the English Premier League, yet the majority of the teams at the top of the Premiership have very few English players,'' Coppell told BBC Five Live on Monday.

''We must protect our identity by having a limited number of English players.'' He was speaking after Reading lost 3-1 to Premier League leaders Arsenal, who started the game without a single English player.

Reuters
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