FORMER Welsh international footballer Dean Saunders said that it's important to show budding stars a route into the senior game to keep them interested.

The striker scored 22 international goals in 75 games between 1986 and 2001 while also playing for Liverpool, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest amongst others.

Saunders was speaking at the McDonald’s & FA Community Football Day at Ross-on-Wye Football Club.

The South Herefordshire side have 28 teams catering from children aged five all the way through to adult teams including successful girls side.

Saunders, aged 54, says that the structure of youth football has changed since he grew up in Swansea.

"The event is teaching the kids the basics and we have an epidemic in this country of obesity and I don't think children exercise as much as when we were young,” he said.

"When I was small we got home from school as quick as we could to play football and get in the best team on the street. You would play against boys who were six foot when you were eight or nine.

"Using driveways for goals and you had to learn to stand up for yourself and how to get around a big lad and became streetwise. All those little things have gone as everything is organised for children now with Academies and a lot more health and safety.

"The coaching has got better, but are they coaching those instincts that we learnt on the streets? I don't think our children are getting them.

"Herefordshire has got a decent catchment area and it's important for any club that the parents can see a route for their child right through the academy to the first team and managers keep showing them examples of that.”

Saunders was Wrexham manager in the Conference Premier between October 2008 and 2011 guiding them up the league before moving on to manage Championship side Doncaster Rovers.

He thinks there should be two promotion places back into the Football League.

"It's nice to see Hereford back and there should be two spots from the Conference back into the Football League as there are a lot of big clubs that can't get back in the league and it's killing them,” he added.

"If there was two spots you could go down and get back up without going bankrupt.

"It's a lot easier to stay in League Two and just hover in the bottom half than get out of the Conference. You get a couple of teams from nowhere spending £1.5 million and stealing the best players and there are only so many who can play at that level.

"You have got to have time as a manager to put the team together as you're signing free transfers all the time and if they are free there's something wrong.

"If they do any good the likes of Salford will nick your strikers and offer them double because you are doing well.

"You need men in that league and seasoned Conference players, League Two or the one below. I respect all the managers at that level because they all know how to get results out of a group of average players.

"Your playing budget is not just who you can get in but who you can keep hold of. You have to use your contacts and try and motivate the players.”