SACKED Sunderland chief scout Pop Robson says he fears his former club, and others in the Premier League, will bring in a flood of foreign imports at the expense of home-grown players.
And he says in the North East especially, local players should form the core of any side.
Sunderland-born Robson (left_ played for both Sunderland and Newcastle in his playing days.
Since hanging his books up after a long and goal-laden career, the 67-year-old has performed a host of back-room duties for the Black Cats – most reently as the Black Cats’ chief scout until being removed at the end of last season.
He has been replaced by ex-Inter Milan chief Valentino Angeloni, who has wasted no time in bringing in a string of players.
And that is a concern to Robson, who feels that with clubs like Sunderland and Newcastle United in particular, it is essential to retain local links with the community which come from having a steady stream of home-grown players.
Few have been steeped in North East football as deeply as Robson and his worry now is that teams in the region will lose their identity, and that on a bigger stage, the English national team will suffer if the Premier League is swamped by foreigners.
“I fear it might happen that Sunderland will concentrate solely on the overseas market,” he said of a club which has already clinched the Bosman signings of Valetin Roberge, Modibo Diakite, El Hadji Ba and Cabral from abroad.
“They might go for cheaper options, younger players, European players, Croatians, Italians – but they still have to be good enough to play in the Premier League, which is pretty demanding,” he pointed out.
“Norwich is the only team in the Premier League that is fielding a high percentage of English players and I feel that’s a sad situation. It’s a worry.
“The Premier League has spent a lot of money on academies but we need to keep working on it.
“It is 40 years since I was top goalscorer with 28 goals in 1973 and that now seems a lot of goals. But back then there were other English players scoring and competing up to that level.”