Gareth Southgate has confirmed that Eric Dier will retain the England captaincy for Tuesday night's friendly with Brazil, praising the tactical intelligence of the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder as well as his growing influence both on and off the pitch.
Southgate admits to being particularly pleased with the development of Dier, a player he previously worked with during his time in charge of the England Under-21 team.
Back then Dier was a promising if quiet centre-back, playing in the Portuguese top-flight with Sporting Lisbon. Now he is one of Tottenham Hotspur’s senior players, and one of Southgate's rotating cast of England captains.
“Dier will captain the team tomorrow night,” Southgate said at Monday's pre-match press conference.
“It will be another very good experience for him. It’s important to remember that being captain on the pitch is just one element of being the captain, the other is showing leadership around the camp.
“The on the field part may help to raise the level of his performance and the bigger picture is that we want these young lads to feel the added responsibility.”
Speaking at Tottenham’s Enfield training ground, which has been doubling up as England’s base camp this international break, Southgate also praised Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino for taking a risk on Dier — something he wants to see more of in English football.
Southgate has never been afraid to hand young players an opportunity, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek delivering a Man of the Match performance against Germany last week, and praised Pochettino for showing faith in Dier, who has blossomed at Spurs since arriving at the club in 2014.
“Mauricio brought him into his first-team and showed him faith,” Southgate said. “He always had a good view of the game but he has developed in terms of confidence. He’s not viewed as the young apprentice anymore but a first-team player and youngsters gain confidence from that.
“With the England team when he was younger we felt that he could take more responsibility and communicate more on the field and show more presence. But with the confidence he has gained from his responsibilities at Tottenham he has really matured.”
Southgate is keeping his cards close to his chest when it comes to the exact look of his starting eleven but Loftus-Cheek is in contention for his second senior international start.
However Southgate was also keen to stress that the real work starts now for the 21-year-old, with his performance against Germany likely to see him something of a marked man in future games.
“He’s taken a lot from the game and felt he learned lots throughout it," Southgate said. "It's incredible really that he's had so few ninety-minute appearances in the league and then we put him in that environment. But we believe in him and he did well.
“Sometimes the first game is easier because people aren't aware of you, but theres a point to prove every time you go onto the pitch. We’re in for a much sterner test tomorrow because this Brazilian team are well down the road in terms of knowing their best team, with a clear way of playing and immense physical presence.”
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