Gareth Southgate has a masterplan for next summer’s World Cup that will move Eric Dier to the centre of a ball-playing back three.
Southgate sees Dier as a key member of his side and essentially wants him to run the game from that central defensive role.
Gareth Southgate is planning a masterplan for the World Cup which sees Eric Dier in defence
Tottenham’s Dier has spent much of his career playing at centre half and earlier this week Southgate hinted that he could see him returning there.
‘I had a really good discussion with his dad over his development (a few years ago),’ Southgate said. ‘At that time he wanted to focus on establishing himself with Spurs as a centre back. He felt that was where he’d play in the future, and it still might be, I think.
‘He has a good tactical understanding on the field and is a good sounding board for me.’
In the absence of Harry Kane and other senior players, Southgate named Dier as captain against Germany and Brazil, a measure of how highly he is rated. It is likely Kane will be captain in Russia, but Dier is fast becoming a hugely influential figure.
Southgate has praised Dier’s reading of the game and admits he is a good sounding board
14 – GARETH SOUTHGATE has handed out 14 debuts in his first 14 games as England manager. This is the same number that both Roy Hodgson and Kevin Keegan gave out in their first 14 games in charge of the team.
Sportsmail understands that, if the World Cup started tomorrow and everyone was available, John Stones and Phil Jones would be deployed either side of Dier, the wider role allowing Stones to make best use of his skill on the ball.
The preferred formation is a fluid 3-5-1-1, with Kane and Dele Alli up front and with two wing-backs and three midfielders in support.
Jordan Henderson is considered by Southgate to be the best option in the holding midfield role, with two running midfielders ahead of him. Adam Lallana would fill one of those places with Southgate yet to decide on the other berth. Harry Winks and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are among the contenders.
Kyle Walker and Danny Rose would occupy the wing-back roles, though Ryan Bertrand is understood to be pushing the Tottenham man close on the left.
It is understood John Stones would play wide of Dier, to best utilise his abilities on the ball
Joe Hart, for now, remains first-choice goalkeeper.
Southgate’s plans leave question marks over the roles of Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling. Both are viewed as potent attacking threats. Sterling, in particular, is having a superb season.
Things can change between now and the summer. Indeed, Southgate insists it is not too late for players on the peripheries.
‘Absolutely, other players have time. We have selected on form and what we think the players are capable of,’ said Southgate. ‘If players are playing well and we are seeing things we think fit into the team, we will pick them.’
But Southgate already has a World Cup blueprint in place as he heads into his first tournament as senior manager.
Stones is adamant no matter who Southgate picks, England must keep the ball better if they want to mount a serious challenge.
Southgate’s 3-5-1-1 system casts doubt on Marcus Rashford (left) and Raheem Sterling’s roles
The Manchester City defender, who was outstanding in both friendlies, said: ‘I thought we could’ve used the ball better. We all know that.
‘But how we defended as a team and dug in as a team, we came off the pitch really pleased. You see what attacking threat Brazil had and what problems they caused us – we snuffed that out quite quickly. You can’t argue with two clean sheets against two top teams.’
Alongside Joe Gomez and Harry Maguire, Stones was the senior defender against Brazil.
‘From my experiences, I try to pass it on to the younger lads and give them a few words,’ he said. ‘That’s what I found when I was growing up. I didn’t want to have too much information.’
Author: Nancy Parker
Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.