Football: Dyer switch could secure senior place

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KIERON DYER believes his best chance of earning a first England cap will be in a wing-back role, even though he plays regularly in midfield for Ipswich. Dyer has been promoted from the Under-21 squad into the senior set-up - by the departed coach Glenn Hoddle - for next Wednesday's prestigious friendly with the World Cup champions France at Wembley.

He admits to feeling "more comfortable" in the centre and impressed there in the Under-21 friendly with the Czech Republic at Portman Road in November. However, the self-confessed Liverpool fan, whose idol is John Barnes, is ready to switch to the flanks if it earns him a breakthrough into the senior side.

Dyer said: "It's fantastic to get the call but Peter Taylor has always said that if we are doing well for the Under-21s then the England manager won't have any qualms about pushing us into the senior side.

"My team-mate Richard Wright got in the squad for the Czech Republic game and that gave me the inspiration to try and push for a place in there as well. We both used to play for the same Sunday team in Ipswich when we were 11-year-olds and we've been good mates ever since and room on Ipswich and England trips.

"To now be in the senior squad together is brilliant. We were both supposed to train with the full England squad earlier in the season but had to miss out because Ipswich had a cup game. Now I've got this chance. I was amazed when I got the call-up for the Under-21s as an 18-year-old and when that happened I wondered if I was good enough to be playing at that level.

"I had a great moment when I scored the winner for the Under-21s in Italy, who hadn't been beaten at home for years - but this call-up into the full squad is brilliant."

Dyer, who was born within a long corner kick's distance of Portman Road, admitted: "I feel more comfortable in midfield. I play there for my club but have played mainly wing-back for England Under 21s.

"I had one of my few games in midfield for England against the Czechs in November and was really pleased with my second-half performance. But I do feel my best chance of breaking through at senior level is at wing- back, because there are very few of them around. I'd play anywhere for my country."

Taylor said: "Glenn Hoddle was intending to have a closer look at Kieron with the seniors in the same way as he did with Lee Hendrie against the Czech Republic. Things have slightly changed with Glenn no longer in charge, but Kieron deserves his chance to train with the seniors. He has done really well for the Under-21s.

"He has been selected more as a wing-back and I think that gives him a better route to the senior side than midfield. People want to see how he handles the senior set-up in case he is called upon to play at some stage."

Dyer broke into the Ipswich side during the 1996-97 season and at the end of that campaign was selected along with Michael Owen to play for England in the mini-World Cup in Malaysia. His first England Under-21 call-up came in September 1997 against Moldova at Wycombe and then the next month saw that memorable winner in the match with Italy in Rieti.

Dyer became a regular member of the Ipswich side but suffered the pain of losing in the First Division play-off semi-final against Charlton. He has been linked with a move to a number of Premiership clubs, most recently Newcastle.

Derby are optimistic of creating a new England Under-21 attendance record for next Tuesday's friendly international with France at Pride Park. Fans have already snapped up nearly 21,000 tickets in advance. The highest attendance for an Under-21 international in England is 25,863, for the meeting with the Republic of Ireland at St James' Park in November 1994.

Meanwhile, the Football Association coach, Colin Murphy, will take over from Howard Wilkinson as team manager for the England Under-18 match with France at Wycombe on the same evening.