Boost for Southgate as English numbers on opening weekend up 7%

England boss Gareth Southgate says he drew inspiration from the NFL when preparing his team for last year's World Cup.

There was a 7% increase in English players in Premier League starting XIs on opening weekend, with a 14% rise in those starting for the ‘top six’.

Clubcall figures show that 83 of the 220 players who started over the course of the league’s opening weekend were qualified to play for Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions – 37% of the total.

That represents a significant rise from last year’s statistic, with the Football Association reporting that only 30% of the starters across the 2018-19 season were available for England.

Back in May, Southgate sounded a warning to English football about the rapidly decreasing size of his Premier League selection pool.

He said that numbers of English players in top-flight teams had fallen so low that future England managers could have as little as 15 per cent of the elite clubs to choose from.

Southgate called it a “big danger” and said that the trend of falling numbers threatened the future of the national team unless clubs changed their approach.

The Football Association’s figures revealed to him that English-qualified players in Premier League starting XIs had fallen to their lowest number since its records began: 30% across the league and 19.9% among the ‘big six’.

However, the sight of an increasing number of young Englishmen making it into their club’s line-ups on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be a welcome boost for Southgate.

And the England boss, who watched Manchester United demolish Chelsea 4-0 on Sunday, will be even more pleased with the trend among the top-six clubs from last season.

A whopping 33% of players who started for Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, United and Tottenham could be called up by him for his next squad.

And those numbers don’t even include retired players such as James Milner and Ashley Young, who were both on the bench for the respective sides.

Burnley and Southampton led the way – seven English-qualified starters apiece – while Wolves brought up the rear with only two in Nuno Espirito Santo’s selection.

And of the top six, Man Utd had five in their line-up, Arsenal and Tottenham four, with Chelsea, Liverpool and City all starting with three Englishmen.