Patrick Vieira has revived calls for Premier League B teams to be allowed to play in the lower divisions.
Football Association chairman Greg Dyke controversially proposed last year that top-flight clubs should be able to field sides lower down the pyramid to improve playing standards.
Such a model does operate successfully on the continent but Dyke's suggestion met with widespread opposition from within the game and has effectively been shelved.
But Vieira, the inspirational former Arsenal captain who is now in charge of Manchester City's Under-21s side, believes the idea has strong merits.
The Frenchman thinks the gap from what is effectively reserve-team football to the Premier League is too great. Even though Vieira's side beat Porto in the final of the Premier League International Cup last week, he feels his youngsters are at a disadvantage to clubs such as the Portuguese.
He said: "The difference is when you play under-21 the gap is massive to the first team. Against Porto they were a B team and they play 'man' football every week - this is how you get close to the first team.
"For English football we need the B teams to play man football."