STEVE Bruce will happily do his bit to get England’s national team back on track as he promised to give Sunderland’s home-grown players a chance to prove they can cut it in the Premier League.
Sunderland’s Academy set-up has been one of the most productive in the country with Jordan Henderson, Martyn Waghorn, Jack Colback and Ryan Noble all playing for the first team in the last two seasons.
That is set to continue next season as Bruce (left) claimed English football is in danger of heading into long-term decline because of the lack of young talent coming through the ranks at Premier League clubs. “I hope Sunderland are doing our bit to produce our own players, but the problems are wider than that,” said Bruce, who has also been a long-standing critic of the number of foreign managers in the Premier League.
“It’s society. Fifteen years ago there were games on every single park and we used to get a football for our birthday and play all day long. Now the kids get a computer game or an iPhone or whatever.
“There aren’t as many kids playing football now. Look at the Scots, they are nowhere now and they always used to
produce players. We’re not producing players like we used to produce.
“We’re fortunate at Sunderland. We’ve had a group here who have come through and I’ve always said as a manager that is important to bring your own players through.
“The young lads here, they know they will get an opportunity with me here as we saw last season. Young lads from the local area, they give the team an energy and a passion.
“It will be interesting to see how Waghorn and Colback do this year. They have to be given a chance but they also have to take it.”
Although Bruce is critical of Fabio Capello’s decision not to take Darren Bent to South Africa, he has some sympathy for the Italian’s predicament and argued Sunderland are likely to benefit from Bent’s latest international snub.
He explained: “We’ve given him an extra week off because he went away with England at the end of last season after playing in virtually every game for us last year.
“For me, England were crying out for someone like him to come on and get us a goal, but that’s my opinion. It’s unfortunate he didn’t get the chance but maybe he will benefit from not being involved.”
Despite feeling that he made a mistake in not selecting Sunder-land’s star striker, Bruce has also defended Capello, suggesting the Premier League simply takes too much out of our best players for them to have anything left in the tank for a summer tournament.
He said: “We’re all scratching our heads because England just didn’t turn up. They disappointed me like everyone else. When you see the likes of Uruguay, Paraguay and Ghana play with such tremendous spirit, we didn’t have that.
“Maybe we are a victim of our own success with the Premier League. For me, anybody who had a good World Cup, they have either been injured in the Premier League or play in a different league.
“The Premier League seems to take a lot out of players and, in hindsight, was going to a training camp in Austria for three weeks the right thing to do?
“Personally, I’d have given them some time off to recharge their batteries.
“The players that we have, none of them performed and I think that was extremely disappointing to see. To be fair to the manager, there aren’t many players who weren’t in the squad that we thought: ‘Why hasn’t he taken him’.”