Turkey coach Senol Gunes has claimed that England are struggling at international level because their players lack the experience of playing abroad.

Gunes believes Turkey’s rise in recent years can be attributed to the fact that many of the current group of playershave played in various European leagues.

“UEFA is number one in the confederations of FIFA and the top leagues in Europe are in England, Germany, France, Italy and Spain,” said Gunes.

“The English Premier League is a much more colourfulleague than the other leagues in Europe, but when you look at the players playing abroad, they have only one player (Bayern Munich midfielder Owen Hargreaves) that plays in Germany.

“Though they have quality players, the English players don’t have experience in Europe at the moment in other countries.

“There might be some difficulties for the national team players who have not experienced different cultures and different football in other European countries.

“But the players who are playing in the England team, I don’t think they are behind the other international players who play in other European leagues.

“Players like Michael Owen, David Beckham and Paul Scholes, they’re very good players, world-class players.”

Gunes is confident ahead of tonight’s pivotal Group 7 clash at the Stadium of Light.

“I just care for my country and the points that we will win, I don’t care for myself,” he added.

“I concentrate on the result and the performance of my country – that means we are getting the result we deserve, that means we can see the light at the end of the tunnel to qualify for the 2004 European Championships.

“To move one step forward ahead of England, we need that result.” ÿ