FA chairman upset with Manchester City's lack of Englishmen and insists maligned B-team plan will "save the national team"
Greg Dyke, the FA chairman, has said it would be "pretty depressing" if Manchester City won the title with so few English players in their side.
City have to avoid defeat at home to West Ham United to guarantee finishing ahead of Liverpool and claim the title for the second time in three years.
This would be City's best-ever season – the first in which they have clinched two domestic trophies - but they have only one Englishman, Joe Hart, in their strongest starting XI as opposed to Liverpool with five. And even Hart lost his place for several games this season. James Milner has made 30 league appearances for City, albeit 18 as a substitute. Like Hart and the five Liverpool players, Milner is expected to be in England's 23-man squad for the World Cup in Brazil, which Roy Hodgson announces on Monday.
Dyke, whose FA Commission into the future of English football published its report last week to a hostile reception, said: "It's been a great league this year. But, if there is only one England player, maybe two [in City's team], that's pretty depressing. I think the figures that we produced showed the top four averaged 29 [English players between them] and this year it is down to 24 – we should be worried about that."
On Brendan Rodgers's side, who host Newcastle on Sunday, Dyke said: "Liverpool have been exciting this year with four or five English players. It's good news for Roy and it's good news for the campaign in Brazil."
Another of the commission's proposals is to increase the number of English players in the Premier League from 66 to 90 by 2022. To this end, Dyke proposed a B-team league for top-flight clubs. "Certain players and clubs are against it," he said. "But then you say to them, OK, but what are you going to do to get these kids through? There is no point saying ‘don't change anything' and in 15 years' time the rate [currently 32 per cent] is 15 per cent in the Premier League who are English and we haven't got an England team."
Hodgson does still have choices as he sits down on Monday at Wembley Stadium to finalise his squad and his seven stand-by players, before travelling to Luton to announce the names ahead of a five-day training camp in Portugal starting on May 19.
Hodgson's greatest concern is the fitness of right-back Kyle Walker, whose pelvic injury means he has not trained properly or played since Feb 12. Walker had hoped to return to training last week but that was not possible.
As a result, Walker's club, Tottenham Hotspur, do not expect the defender to make it to Brazil and would be surprised if he is selected. The final decision is with England's medical staff, who are assessing the injury this weekend before reporting to Hodgson.
He had wanted to include Walker but, if the defender is selected, it opens up the possibility of a dispute with Spurs.
The expectation that Phil Jones will be fit, having hurt his shoulder last week, will create one less problem for Hodgson, who has to decide whether to go with one specialist right-back. He is also understood to be leaning towards Ashley Cole rather than Luke Shaw as his second left-back.
Hodgson has also to decide whether to include Jermain Defoe, who has been playing in Major League Soccer with Toronto, and Ross Barkley. It is believed that Hodgson has been undecided about the 20-year-old Everton midfielder and his inclusion could depend more on whether Walker makes it rather than a straight choice between him and Michael Carrick.
Frank Lampard is expected to be included while Hodgson has to assess the Arsenal pair of Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini, though, has defended the club's recruitment. "We have a very important squad and it's not easy to buy English players. If you want to buy a player from Liverpool, Tottenham or Arsenal or Chelsea, I don't know how much it would cost and I'm sure the teams will not sell," he said.
"It's a high cost and we now have the rules of Financial Fair Play so it will be more difficult to pay more money for players and we need high quality." Jack Rodwell and Micah Richards, both English, are expected to leave City this summer.