Rio Ferdinand believes the future is bright for England after this week's Carling Cup showcased some of the up-and-coming homegrown talent.
Football Association director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking is concerned at the lack of funding for youth programmes in this country, but Ferdinand was more upbeat about the players set to burst through in the next two or three years such as Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere and Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck, who played for their clubs to good effect this week.
"You are always interested to hear about good young English players no matter where they are playing," Ferdinand said at a sponsoredbyyou.com event organised by England sponsors Nationwide Building Society.
"You like to cast your eye over them and have a little look and see how they are doing," he added. "It's encouraging for England. It looks like they have some real talented players down at Arsenal and we've got some coming through at United as well.
"The manager at United doesn't like us talking too much about the young players and putting pressure on them but I feel someone like Danny Welbeck has got a real chance of becoming a top player.
"He's at a club where it's difficult to get into the team, especially in his position because we've got some quality players there.
"But he is someone who does things in training sessions that make you think he's got something most people haven't. So the future should be good for England."
Meanwhile, Ferdinand has given his backing to the FA's plans for tougher drug testing in football.
The proposals, which would bring football into line with other sports, would require players to notify authorities of their whereabouts for one hour each day and would involved drug testing at their homes.
The defender said: "I think it sounds fair. If it brings us up to the level of all the other sportsmen, then I'm in favour. It's good."
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