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Soccer-English need to shun salaries and play abroad - Hodgson

Reuters

By Andrew Cawthorne

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil, June 24 (Reuters) - English football would benefit if more players went abroad but the Premier League's huge salaries are a major deterrent to that, national team coach Roy Hodgson said on Tuesday.

England's humiliating early exit from the World Cup in Brazil has plunged the nation into soul-searching about why they have come up short time-and-time again in the big tournaments.

Many feel the success of the Premier League in attracting the world's best has crowded out up-and-coming English talent by leaving local players on the bench or out of the top sides.

Appearing minutes after England's last game in Brazil, a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica that gave the 'Three Lions' their only point after two other defeats, Hodgson agreed with a reporter who asked if more players should seek overseas experience.

"Absolutely. If they're not getting a chance to play with their Premier League team, and they can find a good opportunity abroad, it would be very positive," he said.

"The Premier League is a very good league but it's also a very rich league. Some of these foreign clubs perhaps can't match their salaries. I'm talking about our number 16 vis-a-vis a Spanish, Italian, German team's number 16. So our big salaries tend to keep people in the country."

Only a few of the biggest European teams, like Spain's Real Madrid or Barcelona, can match the dizzying salaries on offer at most English Premier League teams thanks to the influx of broadcasters' billions in recent years.

EMOTIONAL OVATION

Another reason for England's failure, vis-a-vis the success of a supposed minnow like Costa Rica, who won Group D, is the superior time other teams have been together in terms of both pre-tournament preparation and shared experience, Hodgson said.

"Others have been together longer, but that doesn't answer it completely," he said, also lamenting England's lack of fortune in three games where they created plenty of chances.

"What I can say is that from our point of view, we have been a bit unfortunate. We haven't been outclassed or outplayed, our performances have shown that ... If you're Iran, and you make an incredible stand, you've had a great game. That will never happen for England. We have to dominate the game and score goals. The pressure on teams like England is much bigger."

Hodgson, who made nine changes for England's farewell match, said he was satisfied with how his youngsters had played and with the experience gained, even though some mistakes were made.

"At 18, 19, 20 years of age, we can't give them what Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard have got. We can only give them the opportunity to play and hope they get there," he said.

Despite a bitterly disappointing tournament, England's travelling fans gave the team and Hodgson a rousing farewell ovation in Belo Horizonte that clearly moved the squad.

"The reaction of the fans was brilliant. We're sad and disappointed for them. We are really grateful for that emotional moment at the end when they showed their support," Hodgson said.

"I don't think we gave at any time any impression we had nothing to play for. At the end they gave us an ovation that obviously our results did not merit. I'm still disappointed it was the final game. We wanted so much more."

As well as sterling support, there was plenty of gallows humour from the English on show too, with fans repeatedly singing 'Always look on the bright side of life', an ironic ditty made famous in the Monty Python film 'Life of Brian'. (Editing by Patrick Johnston)

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