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EDITORIAL: Everton fans deserve bigger say than ex-players on Arteta

EDITORIAL: The FA need to stop being so precious and get into the game.

If Mikel Arteta is willing to pledge his international commitment to England - and Fabio Capello can see a role for the Everton midfielder - then every effort should be made to making his Three Lions selection as smooth as possible.

Italy won the 2006 World Cup with Argentine Mauro Camoranesi, the Juventus midfielder, playing a major role. His teammate, Amauri, the Brazilian striker, will feature prominently in Cesare Prandelli's Euro2012 qualifying plans, while below the senior level, Italy have no problem aggressively capping any South American talent with the right family history.

Rodrigo Possebon, the former Manchester United midfielder now of Santos, is an Italy U21 international, as is fellow Brazilian Fabiano Santacroce, of Napoli. Cesena's Argentine winger Ezequiel Schelotto is now a regular in Italy's U21 squad, where coach, Pierluigi Casiraghi has also capped Espanyol striker Daniel Pablo Osvaldo and will soon call up Udinese's Fernando Forestieri, also both Argentines.

And while Spain won this year's World Cup with a squad of Spanish-born players, don't kid yourself that their federation isn't fighting the same battle with their South American cousins. Only last week, Athletic Bilbao's Venezuelan-born defender Fernando Amorebieta pledged his international future to Spain - and at champions Barcelona, Thiago Alcantara (Brazil) and Jeffren Suarez (Venezuela) are both major players for their respective Spain youth teams.

At international level, competition for the best youth talent around the world is as red hot as it is amongst the game's biggest clubs. England have been lagging behind for years and are allowing themselves to be taken advantage of by their 'twee' stance.

For all the wailing from ex-players and pundits, the people who really deserve a say on Arteta's situation are Everton's paying punters. After all, it is through their commitment that Arteta has benefited from the coaching and environment offered at the Toffees.

If Goodison Park regulars are happy for Arteta to play for England, then that should be the first consideration for the FA as they debate the ramifications of his selection.

The world isn't going to end if Arteta pulls on an England shirt. It will just mean - finally - that the FA has entered the modern era when it comes to national team selection.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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