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Thursday, March 9, 2006
Pardew critical of Arsenal's foreign policy

LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) - West Ham United manager Alan Pardew has criticised London rivals Arsenal for their reliance on foreign players and believes the Football Association should force clubs to field British players in their sides.

Arsenal have played nearly 700 minutes of football since an English player last appeared for them and on that occasion defender Sol Campbell was replaced at halftime by Swede Sebastian Larsson following a poor first-half display.

Pardew, who regularly starts with a majority of British players in his Premier League line-up, believes domestic clubs are in danger of losing their soul by signing too many imports.

Speaking at his press conference before eighth-placed West Ham's clash with Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, Pardew pointed to Arsenal's ousting of Real Madrid in the Champions League.

The only British player involved in the 0-0 draw on Wednesday was Real's England captain David Beckham while Arsenal started with eight different nationalities.

'I saw a headline saying Arsenal are flying the flag for Britain in the Champions League, but I had to wonder where that British involvement was when I saw the team,' said Pardew.

'There was a big commotion when that first happened and it shouldn't be washed under the mat again.

'Every English club should carry at least three British players in the first team. The foreign players have added massively to our game, but the soul of the club is the homegrown players and they should be integrated into that team.

'It is important we don't lose sight that this is the English Premier League and English players should be involved. I know it is difficult to buy British players because the market is expensive.

'Chelsea are in a position where they can pay over the odds to bring in those players whereas we have had to search through the lower divisions to do that and Dean Ashton was the only player we had to pay top money for.'

West Ham have surprised many on their return to the top flight this season and still have a realistic chance of a top-six finish and qualification for European football.

'It is a massive game for both clubs in terms of our league position,' Pardew said of the match at Bolton, who are one place above them with a game in hand.

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