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Hodgson bemoans lack of talent as injuries mount for England

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The Canadian Press
9/1/2013 7:32:42 PM
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LONDON -- Wayne Rooney will miss two key World Cup qualifiers after being forced to pull out of the England squad on Sunday with a head injury.

Rooney is facing three weeks out after cutting his forehead during a training-ground collision with teammate Phil Jones at Manchester United.

"It's bad," United manager David Moyes said. "It's right down the middle of his forehead and it will take a while to heal. He turned round and Phil Jones just lifted his boot as his head came in."

Jones and right back Glen Johnson are also out of England's matches against Moldova and Ukraine after injuring ankles in United's 1-0 loss to Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday.

There is also a doubt over Liverpool goal scorer Daniel Sturridge due to a groin injury, which restricted him at Anfield, according to club manager Brendan Rodgers.

The other strikers in England's squad are Rickie Lambert, Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck.

Cardiff defender Steven Caulker, who has only played once for England, is the only reinforcement so far added to the national squad.

England's World Cup hopes are far from secure, with Roy Hodgson's team second in its qualifying group -- two points behind Montenegro with a game in hand and with four matches left. Only the group winner qualifies automatically with the runner-up facing a playoff.

England hosts Moldova at Wembley on Friday and travels to Kyiv to play third-place Ukraine on Sept. 10.

The injury setbacks came after Hodgson complained that his talent pool is severely limited by foreign players packing Premier League teams.

Barely 30 per cent of the players in action in the Premier League are English, according to Hodgson, who is unhappy that overseas imports are used as quick-fix solution by managers, blocking the paths of homegrown prospects into the teams.

None of last season's top seven sides -- Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton and Liverpool -- has so far signed an Englishman in the summer transfer window after collectively spending hundreds of millions of dollars on imports.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore recently said that there were more than 200 English players in the topflight last season.

But Hodgson disputes that statistic.

"I would defy anyone to come up with 240 (English) names in the Premier League," the former Liverpool, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham manager said. "I don't think, quite frankly, you would be able to come up to 30 or 40."

That's a problem when Hodgson has to pick a squad that can qualify for the World Cup, and is then capable of competing with the leading nations in Brazil next year.

Hodgson is concerned that, although the leading clubs have English players on their books, they aren't always first-team regulars because "their way is blocked by extremely talented players."

Hodgson even doubts whether David Beckham would have been given an opportunity to shine had he been breaking into football today.

The former England captain emerged from United's renowned "Class of '92" -- members of that year's youth team, also including Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, and brothers Gary and Phil Neville, who became regulars for their club and England.

"What would have become of the Nevilles, Beckham, Scholes, (Welsh winger Ryan) Giggs, (Nicky) Butt had it not been the fact the time when they were growing up the manager (Alex Ferguson) did take a chance," Hodgson said. "They didn't go rushing out and buy a foreigner every time."

Hodgson points now to Tottenham, which has invested close to 100 million pounds ($150 million) on a string of overseas recruits in 2013, limiting opportunities for English players at White Hart Lane, including 21-year-old midfielder Tom Carroll.

"They are players who are too good to let go but they are finding it hard to get games," Hodgson said.

Roy Hodgson (Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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