England must cap Premier League imports to win World Cup - Cantona

In August 1992 Eric Cantona was one of only 12 foreign players on duty on the opening weekend of the first Premier League campaign.

English footballers are now heavily outnumbered by their foreign counterparts in the Premier League, ensuring Fabio Capello will have a very hard time to select a decent squad.

But despite new regulations which will come into force this season, that require every top flight club to include eight home-grown players. The players must have been registered by the club for three seasons prior to his 21st birthday, among a squad of 25. Cantona predicts that the English game will face a period of decline unless a cap on imports is introduced.

Cantona, the face of a new advertising campaign to promote sports available on Sky Sports HD, said: "Yes, a cap is important. You can have foreign players; but three, four or five." Cantona said to the telegraph.co.uk

"You must also have good, young English players because they will play with great foreign players and improve with them.

"They will have a chance to play with the first team and they will play to win the Premier League; big games with a lot of pressure, they will play in Europe and they will have experience of the game.

"Now, even the small teams, they have so many foreigners. Capello would once have had hundreds of players he could choose, but now how many English players play in the Premier League?

"If it keeps going, in 10 years time it will be very, very difficult. I'm sure England will not qualify for the European Championship or the World Cup, because you need to have players who play at the highest level so you have to be careful."

Cantona, who was credited by Sir Alex Ferguson with inspiring and improving United's 'golden generation' of David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers, fears that a talent drought in the younger ranks of English football is now beginning to tell.

Cantona said: "England have good players from the last generation, but they need to have very good young players and why don't they have good young players?

"You still have the old generation, like Gerrard and these kind of players. When they were young, there were not so many foreigners.

"Now Liverpool or Arsenal have 11 foreign players, so where are the young English players? Arsenal and Liverpool never play with English players!

"These kind of teams need to work on young players, it's very important for England, for the national team.

"It's very important for the whole national team to have young players involved in the greatest teams because they will play in very strong competitions, they will play to win the Premier League, in Europe and they will improve every time." Cantona concluded.