SACKED Sunderland chief scout Pop Robson says he fears his former club, and others in the Premier League, will bring in a flood of foreign imports at the expense of homegrown players.
And he says in the North East especially, local players should form the core of any side.
Sunderland-born Robson played for both Sunderland and Newcastle, before performing a host of backroom duties for the Black Cats – most reently as chief scout until being removed at the end of last season.
He has been replaced by ex-Inter Milan chief Valentino Angeloni, who has wasted no time in bringing in a string of players.
And that is a concern to Robson who feels that with clubs like Sunderland and Newcastle United in particular, it is essential to retain local links with the community which come from having a steady stream of homegrown players – while the English national team will suffer if the Premier League is swamped by foreigners.
“I fear it might happen that Sunderland will concentrate solely on the overseas market,” he said of a club which has already clinched the Bosman signings of Valetin Roberge, Modibo Diakite, El-Hadji Ba and Cabral from abroad.
“They might go for cheaper options, younger players, European players, Croatians, Italians – but they still have to be good enough to play in the Premier League, which is pretty demanding,” he pointed out.
“But you read where probably Norwich is the only team in the Premier League that is fielding enough of a percentage of English players, and I feel that’s a sad situation
“It’s a worry to me in the English game. I don’t know where the development is going to come from.
“The Premier League has spent a lot of money on academies but we need to keep working on it.”