MX23RW : Monday, February 18 02:59:04

English players continue to struggle for Premier League playing time

Only 32 per cent of top-flight minutes this season have gone to players eligible to represent England.

English players’ involvement in the Premier League has improved slightly as this season has progressed but remains below a third of total playing time.

National team manager Gareth Southgate has repeatedly voiced his concern over England’s shrinking player pool and only 32 per cent of Premier League minutes this season have gone to players eligible to represent the Three Lions.

Having previously suggested he may have to dip into the Championship, Southgate has called on Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho in his squad to face Croatia and Spain as top-level domestic opportunities remain limited.

Tough at the top

Premier League playing time for England-eligible players
(PA Graphic)

Slightly worryingly, two of the league’s form teams are still well adrift of the pack in terms of playing time for English players.

Chelsea are unbeaten and level on points at the top, while Arsenal have won their last six league games and nine in all competitions – but both languish below the five per cent mark having used only three English players apiece.

Blues midfielder Ross Barkley has provided a bright spot for England, featuring in seven of his side’s eight games and starting three, to force his way back into Southgate’s squad.

His move from Everton came during an injury-hit season and he missed the World Cup but the 24-year-old playmaker is relishing his increased involvement under Maurizio Sarri.

Ross Barkley
Ross Barkley has rebounded at Chelsea but England’s options remain limited (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I had a difficult season through injuries and I had a few niggles but kept a positive mind,” he said on Tuesday. “I had a strong pre-season and things are going well for me now.

“I feel ready to show I can produce the goods on gameday and I feel like I’m going in the right direction.”

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (35 minutes) and Gary Cahill (22) are the only other English players used by Sarri this season while for Arsenal, Rob Holding has played 232 minutes, Danny Welbeck 120 and Ainsley Maitland-Niles 34.

Fine Claret

James Tarkowski
James Tarkowski pulled out injured this time but has earned England recognition with Burnley (Nigel French/PA)

At the other end of the scale, Burnley comfortably lead the way with almost 70 per cent of their playing time going to English players.

Joe Hart, Ben Mee, Jack Cork and Aaron Lennon are ever-present, while fringe international James Tarkowski has started every game but went off injured in the first half at Cardiff.

Bournemouth are the only other team over 50 per cent (55.6), led by striker Callum Wilson and full-back Adam Smith.

Everton are only just outside at 49.5 per cent while only three more teams – Southampton, Cardiff and Leicester – crack the 40 per cent barrier. Tottenham, at 37.3 per cent, and Watford at 33.8 are also slightly above average.

English is the leading nationality in terms of playing time at 16 of the 20 Premier League clubs. Aside from Chelsea and Arsenal, the other exceptions are Wolves – Ryan Bennett and captain Conor Coady are ever-present but are outnumbered by Portuguese players in Nuno Espirito Santo’s so far unchanged line-up – and Huddersfield.

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