The Football Association has confirmed it will investigate allegations of sexual abuse in football. It comes after a number of players have claimed they were abused as youngsters.

The FA said it had instructed Kate Gallafent QC to assist it to review the cases and establish instances of wrongdoing.

A spokesman for the governing body stated: "At this time, with acknowledgement that a wide-ranging inquiry may be required in time, we are working closely with the police to support their lead investigations and must ensure we do not do anything to interfere with or jeopardise the criminal process."

It comes as Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor warns that at least 20 former football players have made allegations of sexual abuse.

"It would be naive to think that there would not be clubs, as well, throughout all areas," Taylor told Sky News. "As we've seen in other areas where youngsters are involved, such as the church and schools, there are difficulties and sensitivities in dealing with it."

He added: "Anything can happen and when you are talking about child abuse. You can't rule out anything. You have to make sure that every stone is unturned."

Other football clubs are said to include Crewe, Manchester City, Blackpool, Stoke City and Newcastle United, as Taylor revealed more players have come forward with abuse claims.

The confirmation of the investigation comes a day after Crewe Alexander announced it will launch its own independent inquiry into how it dealt with sexual abuse allegations.

The club said they would appoint an external legal counsel to investigate the allegations made by several former players claiming they were abused by Barry Bennell, a former youth coach at the club.

It comes after Hamilton Smith, a former Crewe board member, claimed that the club's hierarchy ignored warnings about Bennell's behaviour in the late 1980s.

Bennell, now 62, was jailed for nine years at Chester crown court after admitting 23 charges of sexual offences against six boys aged nine to 15 in 1998.

Former player Andy Woodward was the first to come forward on 16 November, telling the Guardian newspaper that he was sexually abused by Bennell when he was at Crewe from the age of 11 to 15.

Five other former footballers – Steve Walters, David White, Jason Dunford, Chris Unsworth and Anthony Hughes – have also said that they were abused by Bennell while they were youth players.

A hotline has since been set up by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and received more than 100 calls in a matter of days.

Michael Bennett, the head of player welfare at the PFA, has warned that the number of footballers who have spoken out about historic child abuse could be "the tip of the iceberg".