Wigan Athletic striker Emile Heskey says England's pool of talent is shrinking.
Heskey, who blazed through the ranks at Leicester as a teenager and won the first of his 43 caps at 21 before a club record £11million move to Liverpool, said: "It will be hard for English youngsters to come through in the Premier League. You have to be determined and take knock-backs in some of the big teams."
Heskey is convinced Steve McClaren already operates under a huge handicap as the top four clubs continue to recruit abroad. Of the 21 new players United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal have signed, only three are English.
"It must be so difficult for the kids at United when the club spend £17m on a player," Heskey said.
"If they spend that much, they have to play them. 'Youngsters can go out on loan and work their way back up. But there aren't any young English strikers breaking through. I'm sure there are a few, but it's getting the opportunity to show it.
"The game has changed a lot, and teams are buying players rather than looking to their youth."