Premier League: English under-21 playing time hits 12-season high

Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold
Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold is one of four players aged 21 and under to have played all 720 minutes in the Premier League this season

Game time for English players aged 21 and under at Premier League clubs is at its highest level in 12 seasons.

English under-21s have made up 5.01% of minutes played this season, eclipsing Germany (2.28%) and Spain (2.61%) for the first time since 2007-08.

Club-trained players account for 12.23% of playing time this season, its highest level since 2011-12.

Manchester United lead the Premier League for club-trained players this term, making up 37.4% of playing time.

They are followed by Tottenham (29.5%) and Chelsea (28.9%), while Manchester City's club-trained players have contributed 0.8% of minutes to their league campaign so far.

According to the metrics used in data compiled by the Football Observatory, club-trained players are those who have been at their club for at least three seasons between the ages of 15 and 21.

Although the overall figures for under-21s and club-trained players in the Premier League are relatively low, they are almost double the numbers for the 2016-17 season, when England was bottom of the big-five European leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain).

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, who has handed full debuts to academy graduates Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori this season, said the youngsters he fielded were in the team on merit.

The Blues are currently banned from signing players but Lampard said: "I hear a lot, it was the only way it was going to be this year, it's a perfect storm, the young players had to play, but that's not true. That would be disservice to the competition I have in this squad.

"It's a good story, and great for us that they are competing to get their place. The main thing for me, the happiness, is that having been at Chelsea a long time and seen how the academy work and not seen enough young boys come through, now we are so, let's continue with that."

The data also shows that foreign players have contributed 59.8% of playing time in the Premier League, the lowest it has been for five seasons, but the fifth highest figure among 31 European leagues.

Wolves have fielded the highest ratio of foreign players in the Premier League this season with 84% of minutes played, ahead of Arsenal (81.3%), Manchester City (81%) and Liverpool (78.9%).

But the rise in the use of young English and club-trained players this season will offer hope to those also hoping to make a breakthrough via club academies.

Chelsea have contributed to this significantly by fielding striker Abraham, midfielder Mount and defender Tomori, who all came through the club's academy.

Manchester United's club-trained tally is helped by boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opting for younger players such as forwards Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood, as well as midfielder Scott McTominay.

Manchester City winger Phil Foden, 19, is the only club-trained player to have been selected in the Premier League by Pep Guardiola this season.

His 10 minutes of action are dwarfed by Mount, 20, who has played 709 minutes under Frank Lampard.

Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold, Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, Norwich's Ben Godfrey and West Ham midfielder Declan Rice are the only four under-21 players to have played all 720 minutes in the eight Premier League games this season.