MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - England are unlikely to become world champions again because the country's Premier League is now flooded with foreign players, 1966 World Cup winner Bobby Charlton said on Wednesday.
"I worry a bit. Every year I feel when one of the newspapers wants me to give an opinion on whether there is a chance to win the World Cup or whatever, I feel obliged to say 'yes they have got a chance' but I think it's a fool's errand," Charlton told delegates at the Soccerex Business Forum.
"I feel that we need good players and if all of the spaces in the English game are taken up by foreigners then we don't have any chance.
"I'm not saying that it is not fair but it is hard to think that we can win a World Cup when you see the quality now," added Charlton, who played 106 times for England between 1958 and 1970 and is still the country's record goalscorer with 49 goals.
"The only thing that gives me a bit of hope is that I do see good coaching and I do see English coaches having as much to say in world terms as anyone else".
Charlton, who spent almost his entire career at Manchester United and won the European Cup in 1968, highlighted how Manchester City's recent run of success is mostly reliant on the club's overseas players.
City were transformed in 2008 when Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi bought the club and has since spent more than one billion dollars on players and infrastructure, ending a 35-year wait for honours when they won the FA Cup in 2011 and captured their first top flight league title for 44 years in 2012.
"The difference from City five or six years ago is that they did not have any foreign players and once they had the finance to do it, they went into the market and got some good players.
"They are going to be a hard team to beat."
While Charlton painted a bleak future for England, Dan Ashworth, the FA's new Director of Elite Development, was more optimistic as he outlined plans to end the nation's 47-year wait for another major title.
"The World Cup is a very tough tournament to win but I think the signs are there. We have some good young players coming through, five or six that look like they are going to be the nucleus of the national team and we have to build on that," Ashworth said.
"We have to make sure that (England manager) Roy Hodgson and future England managers have a bigger base and a better base of players available to play on the world stage. It is not going to happen overnight, but that is what we must aim for."
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