Blake calls for show of faith
Under-19 boss Noel Blake believes England's top clubs need to start giving youngsters more chances - and cites Phil Jones as a prime example. Grass roots football has once again risen to the fore in the wake of England's lacklustre showing at the 2010 World Cup. There is a fear that the national side will continue to go backwards until something is done about the dwindling number of promising players given a chance at the highest level. Too many sides towards the top of the English game prefer to look abroad for ready-made talent rather than dip into their academy ranks for stars of the future. Other nations have proven that taking a gamble on youth team stars can pay dividends, with the showings of Thomas Muller at the World Cup justifying the faith shown in him by domestic employers Bayern Munich. Blake feels it is about time England started to follow the lead of countries such as Germany, or face the prospect of sliding further out of contention on the world stage. "Ultimately it has something to do with (players) getting games in the Premier League," he said in The Times. "There is a pathway but if that is blocked, where then do you go? Historically we get lads to a certain stage then at 18, 19, 20 there is a back-turn. "A good example for me is Phil Jones at Blackburn Rovers. Sam Allardyce has put him in the team, a 1992 birth, and he's been fast-tracked to the U21s. "But if Sam hadn't given Jones the opportunity to play against the likes of (Didier) Drogba then we wouldn't have seen everything he's capable of. The pathway needed to be there. Manchester United have always brought young players in. "Years ago there used to be a very good reserve-team league, now it's not taken seriously. Sometimes we have a responsibility to football, not just to one club. "I'll probably be shot down for saying that but if you go to Germany, they'll tell you that they're not just producing footballers for their club, they're producing for the country."
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