Proving wrong what seems to be the general idea that an influx of foreign players might be blocking English players' development, Chelsea has six youngsters in England's U21 national team in their latest call-up -- two of whom joined after injuries to other players in the initial listing. One of the original four was loanee Lewis Baker, who spoke to the FA's official website about the U21 team's next game following their draw against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo:
"We're going into the game looking to get three points at home. It's going to be on a good pitch and hopefully we can play the way we like to."
"The pitch wasn't the best out there [Sarajevo], but we can't give excuses, we went there to win the game and it was difficult. It was a bit of a fight, but we managed to get a result out of it. We want to finish top of the group, that's the main aim and hopefully we can do that on Monday."
At the start of last season, Chelsea manager José Mourinho told the media that if Lewis Baker -- as well as his team colleagues Isaiah Brown and Dominic Solanke -- ever failed to reach the English national team, he would only have himself to blame. Baker took this as a challenge to put even more work towards his development as a player:
"For someone like that to say it about me, it made me feel proud and gave me a bit of belief too. That's what comes with this game, a bit of pressure is what's expected."
"But I just need to carry on learning and working hard to try and prove to people that one day I can do it. You can learn a bit off everyone, a lot of these boys [in the U21s squad] have played in their first teams at Premier League clubs."
"I've learnt a lot so far, [England U21 manager] Gareth [Southgate] has helped me quite a bit since I've been in and also with the boys who train and play with their clubs every day. I'm learning a lot of tactical stuff, off the ball and the shape and on the ball, we all link very well. The next step for my development is to play more regular first-team football at a decent level."
Baker is having an opportunity to showcase his abilities at Eredivisie club Vitesse, which currently have a loan partnership with Chelsea. The English U21 player pointed out that much of his development and achievements are a result of playing in the Netherlands, and he aims to reach higher grounds through his hard work:
"The Dutch league is good, it's very technical and I'm learning a lot so it's a step in the right direction for me. I've had to adapt my game to what the manager wants. And we are learning different systems and tactics."
"They want to play at a high tempo and I can see from previous video clips of how I used to play that my understanding of the game is improving. I'm talking about things such as my general awareness, when I can turn and play, when to pressure the opposition."
"Obviously, I want to continue my development. But I feel that I am learning out there - and, of course, I'm playing games which helps. My aim is to carry on learning and working hard, if I can have a good season, who knows what can happen next season?"
-Lewis Baker; Source: The FA official website
Often times it's argued that Premier League clubs needs more English players in their squads since there's been a major drop-off of players from the country in the league; especially at top clubs. But for that to happen, English players also need to be at the top of their game. Better competition from the foreign talent coming to English football, both at the senior and academy levels should theoretically produce better players overall, for both club and country.