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Spurs: Eric Dier demonstrated Antonio Conte’s influence in England defeat

Two members of the Tottenham Hotspur squad were involved in England’s Nations League defeat to Italy on Friday evening – a result which ensured Gareth Southgate’s side will be relegated from Group A – with Harry Kane and Eric Dier both playing the full 90 minutes in the 1-0 loss at the San Siro.

However, while the Three Lions captain was largely anonymous in leading the England line – aside from forcing a smart double save from Azzurri goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in the second half – Dier turned in a much more impressive display in the heart of Southgate’s three-man defence.

Despite the fixture representing his first start for England in a little under two years, the 28-year-old appeared the most assured of his fellow centre-backs, Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire, at the back – something that will have done his chances of securing a place in the World Cup squad no harm whatsoever.

Indeed, over his 90 minutes on the pitch, the £25.2m-rated talent demonstrated Antonio Conte’s “great effect” on his game, completing 69 passes – the most of any player on the night – enjoying 89 touches of the ball – again, the most of any player in the fixture – and finding his man with five of his 12 attempted long balls – the most of any England player.

The £72k-per-week defender also impressed in metrics more typical of his position, making three clearances – with no player from either side making more – blocking two shots – the most of any player on the night – and making one tackle, as well as winning each of his two aerial duels.

These metrics saw Conte’s self-confessed “teacher’s pet” earn a very respectable SofaScore match rating of 7.1, ranking him by far and away and England’s best centre-back – with Walker and Maguire earning ratings of 6.5 and 6.7 respectively.

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How well do you know Spurs manager Antonio Conte? Question 1. During his playing days, in which position did Conte typically operate?

As such, despite the disappointment of the result on the night and England’s subsequent relegation in the Nations League, there was nevertheless a big positive to take for Tottenham and England supporters from Friday night’s defeat, as it is evident that Conte has once again made Dier one of England’s best defenders.