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Academy influx concerns Bentley

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Blackburn star Bentley does not think quotas are the best solution

By Simon Austin

England star David Bentley believes Premier League academies need to be regulated to prevent foreign players hindering homegrown talent.

The Blackburn player, 23, spent his formative years at Arsenal before being forced out by a lack of opportunities.

"At Arsenal, there were probably 15 or 20 different nationalities at such a young age. Sometimes that can stifle the development of players.

"Maybe they should change the rules of youth teams," Bentley told BBC Sport.

Research by BBC Sport reveals in the season just passed the lowest-ever number of England-qualified players started in the Premier League.

No-one should be playing just because they're English

David Bentley
Bentley was one of the most successful of those English players, having a hugely successful campaign with Blackburn and forcing his way into the England squad, winning three caps.

Before joining Rovers in 2005, Bentley came through Arsenal's junior ranks but he only ever made one first-team appearance in the league and left for regular opportunities to play elsewhere.

Yet Bentley says he is grateful for the tutelage he received at Arsenal.

He said: "Growing up at Arsenal and developing there was great for me. I think it's made me stronger and a better player for it."

And the right winger says he is very optimistic about the quality of the youngsters England boss Fabio Capello will have at his disposal in the next few years.

David Bentley
Bentley left Arsenal because of a lack of first-team opportunities

"I think we're in good shape," he said. "Sometimes people can look for excuses when you lose and jump on the bandwagon, saying people are not developing.

"But look at the players who are coming through - me, Ashley Young, Dean Ashton, Steve Warnock, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Tom Huddlestone.

"They're all playing in the Premier League, the best league in the world. If you're not trying to reach the heights of some of these best players in the world, you're not going to get there yourself."

Bentley says he opposes a quota system being brought in to regulate the number of English players starting for Premiership sides.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter is keen to introduce the so-called "six plus five ruling", which allows clubs to start a match with no more than five foreign players on the field.

The kids out there have got to have belief in themselves - if they're strong minded they can make it

David Bentley

But Bentley said: "You are going to be playing at a lower level if you let people play because of nationality and not ability.

"No-one should be playing just because they're English. I don't think they have to make restrictions on who plays in the Premier League, because everyone wants to see the best players in the world playing on a Saturday.

"That's why the Premier League is so watched around the world. I like playing against the best players and wouldn't want that to change.

"I always had belief in my own ability and that it was judged on ability. The kids out there have got to have belief in themselves and if they're strong minded they can make it.


"If you're good enough, you'll get an opportunity somewhere and it will be up to you to prove yourself.

"My own personal thing was to go and try and make myself a player somewhere else. I could have hung around and maybe I would have made it, maybe I wouldn't have. I didn't want that to happen, I wanted to develop and make myself a player."

Bentley however did suggest a rule could be brought in to stipulate three of players on each Premier League bench should be English.

"Then a manager can bring them on and try to develop them in that way," he said. "If they prove to be a success they can play."

see also
England player numbers at new low
27 May 08 |  Football
Fifa set to back quota proposal
27 May 08 |  Europe

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