EDDIE Howe believes a drop in coaching standards has been responsible for the decline of English football – and not the influx of players from abroad.

The Cherries boss was responding after England under-21 manager Gareth Southgate called for a cap on the number of foreigners in the Championship.

Southgate, speaking to the Daily Mail, said he felt all teams should be compelled to field six or seven Englishmen in an attempt to encourage the country’s young talent to flourish.

Cherries’ resources this season have been bolstered by the arrival of record signing Tokelo Rantie, a South Africa international, and French-Senegalese Mohamed Coulibaly.

No fewer than 13 members of Howe’s first-team squad qualify to play for other countries, although Cherries’ non-English contingent is dwarfed by the likes of Watford and Brighton.

Howe, capped by his country at under-21 level, told the Daily Echo: “As a proud Englishman, I would love to see the country get as many English players through the youth system and into the first team. That goes without saying because I want the national team to do well.

“But I don’t buy the solution as being to try to limit the number of foreigners coming in. For me, we have to improve the coaching at all levels – grassroots, our own clubs, youth team and first team – because it is the only way we are going to produce better players.

“I think we have fallen way behind in coaching standards in this country and we are behind certain parts of the rest of the world and Europe. We need to get our own house in order before we start looking at the foreign player situation. If you have got better English players, you will play them.

“People are only looking farther afield because they feel they are getting a better quality product so I think it falls on our shoulders to try to produce better players.”

Howe, who holds the UEFA pro-licence, the highest available coaching qualification, said, as manager of one of the 92 clubs in the Premier League and Football League, he had never had any dialogue with the FA regarding coaching structures.

He added: “A lot is being made in the media about the future of our game. How many opinions should they take and who should make the final decision? They are really difficult questions and the future of our game depends on the answers.

“I would never tell anyone to listen to my opinion ahead of anyone else’s but I do think there needs to be a direction. At the moment, I don’t think we are seeing that happening and that is the key point.”