Premier League says backs plan to improve England team

LONDON (Reuters) - The Premier League has thrown its weight behind efforts to increase the number of talented young Englishmen playing for its clubs and graduating to the national team.

Newly appointed FA Chairman Greg Dyke last week cited the influence of foreign players in the Premier League as one of the factors holding back the England team.

England's only major trophy was in 1966 when they won the World Cup on home soil. A limp performance in a scoreless draw with Ukraine in a World Cup qualifier this week has prompted fresh criticism of Roy Hodgson's team.

"There is a strong desire to see greater numbers of England qualified players coming through their Academy systems that are capable of performing at both Premier League and international standard," Premier League Chairman Anthony Fry said on Thursday.

"There is no doubt around the Premier League table as to the benefits of a national set-up that is thriving and performing well," Fry added.

Dyke, a former television executive, spoke to Premier League chairmen and chief executives at one of their regular meetings in London on Thursday.

"We already know there is a lot of good work going on but I suspect there is more to be done," Dyke said after the meeting, welcoming the commitment from the Premier League.

The Premier League is the richest in the world but there is frustration among fans about its clubs' failure to produce as many good young players as rivals do in countries like Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

Critics argue that the financial rewards of the Premier League encourage teams to buy in foreign players as a short cut to ensure survival or success.

The Premier League is investing 340 million pounds to try to improve its academies. It points out that it is only one season into this four-year programme to find the heirs to players like David Beckham and Michael Owen.

(Writing by Keith Weir, 44 20 7542 8022; editing by Justin Palmer)

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