England’s remarkable comeback victory over Germany in the most recent series of international friendlies has raised optimism ahead of EURO 2016, even if a defeat to Netherlands was slightly disappointing.
Of the side that showed such fighting character in Berlin, five of the starting line-up were members of the Tottenham Hotspur team that has impressed so much this season and continue to push for the Premier League title. It appears that much of Mauricio Pochettino’s good work at White Hart Lane will be of benefit to the Three Lions, with a handful of the Spurs youngsters set to play a role in France.
Hot-shot centre forward Harry Kane is the most impressive of the lot, while Dele Alli’s potential could make him a feature in the national side for years to come. However, of the North London youngsters making a name for themselves, there is an argument to suggest that Eric Dier should be the one to get most excited about.
The former Sporting Lisbon starlet has been reborn this season at Tottenham after being unleashed in the centre of midfield by Pochettino. A ploy that not many would have seen materialising, Dier has supplied the brawn and diligence in the Spurs midfield that has allowed others such as Alli to saunter forward and impress.
The reformed centre-back has not gained the plaudits that he deserves due to the exertions of others, but from a purely functional perspective his importance to club and country cannot be overstated. Every top team has a dominant player in front of its defence and for Spurs this season that man has been Dier. Pochettino has instilled positional discipline in the former Everton loanee, while the 22-year-old’s physical attributes have been a real boost to his club.
A commanding figure in both the tackle and the air, Dier has continuously broken up opposition attacks this season in the Premier League and been a pivotal part of a Spurs side that has conceded the fewest goals in the division.
Another really impressive feature of Dier’s play for the North London side has been his instruction to drop deep and pick the ball up from Hugo Lloris when Spurs are in possession. He has been calm and composed while on the ball and often the White Hart Lane outfit’s attacks originate through the holding midfielder.
Looking at it from an England perspective, Dier is the best proponent at Roy Hodgson’s disposal for the defensive shield to anchor the team’s midfield. Despite the presence of excellent and distinguished midfielders over recent years such as David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, the Three Lions have lacked a player of Dier’s ilk – one prudent in decision-making and meticulous in positioning.
Much of the promise of a young England side comes from attacking midfield areas, with the likes of Alli, Ross Barkley and others able to hurt the opposition. However, for these starlets to have a licence to play, a reassuring and defensively minded player such as Dier is needed to balance the team.
At this point in time the Tottenham star must start for England at EURO 2016 and his presence will surely make Hodgson’s side more aggressive, combative and tactically astute.