Armfield levels World Cup blame at Premier League

England's Raheem Sterling (left) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during a training session at Urca Military Training Ground, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
England's Raheem Sterling (left) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during a training session at Urca Military Training Ground, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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Jimmy Armfield feels a shortage of English players in the top-flight is damaging the prospects of the national team in a league structure which is otherwise “the envy of the world”.

Reflecting on England’s humbling elimination after only two games of the Brazil World Cup, Blackpool great Armfield told The Gazette: “The English pyramid system is the best in the world.

“It enables clubs like Fleetwood Town to come through like they have and it gives the likes of AFC Fylde hope of doing the same.

“ It is very well organised.

“But in the Premier League, I commentated on matches last year in which there were only three English players on the pitch.

“That can’t be good for England.

“I’d also like to see more football played in schools.”

Former full-back Armfield, who won 43 England caps and featured in two World Cup squads, says the national team simply can’t get away with the sort of defensive errors made in the defeats by Italy and Uruguay.

“In a World Cup you are up against very good players and you can’t afford any slips.

“ England’s approach work looked good but the final ball was missing too often,” added Armfield, who captained his country 15 times.

“We had five Liverpool players in the team but they still didn’t know how to stop Suarez because good players will always make their mark.

“ I played with Matthews, Finney and Greaves, so I know that.”