England captain Steven Gerrard has welcomed suggestions that the Football Association is exploring the idea of restricting the number of foreign players in the Premier League.
A commission set up by new FA chairman Greg Dyke is set to seek out solutions to the declining numbers of English players getting a chance to star for top Premier League clubs and Gerrard has thrown his support behind the initiative.
“Credit to Greg, he is trying to put a structure in place that will improve the statistics of English players coming through,” Gerrard said. “We have to give it time, it’s not going to happen overnight. I read something about them trying to half number of foreigners in the country and that’s a good start.”
Gerrard was asked about Jack Wilshere’s recent comments that the England national team should not open the door to foreign players who qualify to play for Roy Hodgson’s side, with the Liverpool skipper saying he would be open to the prospect of naturalized players representing the Three Lions.
“If players become available through FIFA rules, it’s only right the FA look into it,” Gerrard said. “We need to try and gain every advantage we can to try and make the England team as strong as possible.
“To be fair to Jack, he has given a very patriotic answer. He loves England and I don’t think he wanted to disrespect anyone in any other sport, but credit to him because but he was strong in his opinion and fair play to him.”
Gerrard went on to state his belief that Wilshere will have learned some valuable lessons after a fortnight in which he has been criticised by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger for smoking outside a London nightclub and caused controversy over his views on England eligibility.
“When you’ve had a couple of weeks like Jack’s had, it makes you a better person, make you strong and they improve you as a player,” Gerrard said.
“At the moment, he is playing out of position at Arsenal and that happened to me at Liverpool for a long time. Arsene Wenger is trying to develop him into a better all-round midfielder. All the experience he is getting now will help him to be a better person and a better player.”
Gerrard concluded by dismissing suggestions from Harry Redknapp that he has received a text message from the Liverpool skipper stating his hope that he would take over as England manager following Fabio Capello’s resignation last year.
“I can clear that up. I did not text Harry Redknapp’s personal phone as I have never had his personal phone number,” he added. “But I am a big fan a Harry and close friends with [Redknapp’s son] Jamie.
“I had a conversation with Jamie around the time when Harry’s name was on everyone’s lips and it [seemed as if] was only a matter of days before he became manager. I said to Jamie on the phone, send my best to your Dad and if he gets the job we will all back him and support him.
“Soon after the FA decided Roy Hodgson was going to be the manager and I was absolutely delighted he got the job. He made me captain and I have played some of my most consistent football under Roy, so I have a lot to thank him for.”