PNE boss's full English

The days of an all-English side appearing in the Premier League are long gone '“ it is 17 years since it happened.
Preston boss Simon GraysonPreston boss Simon Grayson
Preston boss Simon Grayson

Preston boss Simon Grayson was in the Aston Villa side which featured 11 Englishmen in the starting line-up – and three more coming on as substitutes – against Coventry on February 27, 1999.

John Gregory was the manager who named that side and no other top-flight boss has done it since.

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Grayson played in the centre of midfield that afternoon, one which ended in a 4-1 home defeat for Villa.

His team-mates in the starting XI that day were Michael Oakes, Stephen Watson, Ricardo Scimeca, Alan Wright, Gareth Southgate, Paul Merson, Dion Dublin, Ian Taylor, Lee Hendrie and Julian Joachim.

Stan Collymore, Gareth Barry and Mark Draper joined the action as substitutes.

Former striker Dublin gave a run through of the team on Match of the Day 2.

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When it came to Grayson’s role, Dublin said: “Simon played in the middle of midfield.

“We used to call him the crab because he used to like passing the ball sideways.”

Dublin scored Villa’s goal that day from the penalty spot.

Coventry’s four goals scored by foreign players – two from Australian John Aloisi, with Dutchman George Boateng getting the other two.

That game against Coventry was Grayson’s penultimate game in a Villa shirt.

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He missed the next couple of months before returning to the side for the final game of the season at Arsenal.

That summer, Grayson joined Blackburn for £750,000.

It had been a £1.3m move which had taken him to Villa from Leicester City two years previously. He made 67 appearances in Villa colours, scoring twice.

While there has not been a full English XI in the Premier League since Grayson’s playing days, there have been all-British ones.

Middlesbrough’s side for a game at Fulham in May 2006 had 10 Englishmen and one player capped by Scotland, James Morrison.

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That day, they had rested several of their foreign players ahead of playing in the UEFA Cup final.

Blackpool fielded a team of all British-born players against Manchester United at Old Trafford in May 2011 – the day they were relegated.

More recently, Burnley did likewise for their clash with Tottenham at White Hart Lane in December 2014, a game they lost 2-1.

The chances of an all-English starting XI gracing a Premier League game again, is virtually nil.

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It was rare in 1999 when Villa did it, with teams having players from the other home nations and from abroad.

Even in the early years of the Football League in the 1880s, Preston for example, had a number of players from Scotland in their side.

Football is a global game with the top sides doing most of their shopping overseas.

That effect has rippled down the leagues over the years.

Looking at the North End squad for last weekend’s game at Cardiff, it featured Anders Lindegaard (Denmark), Bailey Wright, Neil Kilkenny (Australia), Paul Gallagher (Scotland), Alan Browne, Greg Cunningham (Republic of Ireland), Daniel Johnson (Jamaica) and Marnick Vermijl (Belgium).