Whizz kids make Dier & Co raise their game

Daily Star Sunday - - RESULT! - By STEVE MIL­LAR

ENG­LAND mid­fielder Eric Dier believes the stream of young play­ers com­ing into the in­ter­na­tional fold is help­ing to keep the more es­tab­lished names on their toes.

The Three Li­ons played out a goal­less draw in their Na­tions League meet­ing with Croa­tia in Ri­jeka on Fri­day night in a match which took place be­hind closed doors.

Borus­sia Dort­mund for­ward Jadon San­cho, 18, came off the bench late on to make his Eng­land de­but – the first man to do so who was born this mil­len­nium.

Left-back Ben Chilwell, 21, made his first start and fel­low young­sters Ma­son Mount, 19, and James Mad­di­son, 21, were on the bench.

A youth­ful Eng­land side cre­ated the bet­ter chances on the Adriatic coast with Dier and Tot­ten­ham team-mate Harry Kane hit­ting the wood­work and Mar­cus Rash­ford wast­ing two mar­vel­lous chances.

Dier, 24, was pleased to see an­other batch of ex­cit­ing tal­ent come into the squad and reck­ons that it mo­ti­vates the more se­nior play­ers to keep im­prov­ing.

“I feel like the per­for­mance was re­ally pos­i­tive on the whole,” he said.

“There are a lot of young play­ers in the squad look­ing to get their chance and keep­ing every­one on their toes.

“Jadon was re­ally pos­i­tive and had a pos­i­tive im­pact, was brave and took peo­ple on and that is what you want from young play­ers.”

While the game at Sta­dion HNK Ri­jeka was played in an empty ground due to a UEFA sanc­tion against the hosts, a group of Eng­land fans man­aged to find a van­tage point on a hill­side to watch pro­ceed­ings.

They sang for pe­ri­ods of the game as Eng­land played their first ever match be­hind closed doors and Dier re­vealed their sup­port did not go un­no­ticed.

When asked if the play­ers could hear the sup­port­ers, he said: “I could, yes.

“Eng­land fans, they al­ways find a way!

“It was very strange.You never want to play in that sce­nario but we have to deal with it.

“I think we dealt with it the best we could and hope­fully we don’t have to do it again.”

Eng­land’s quest for a first Na­tions League vic­tory con­tin­ues in Spain to­mor­row.

It re­mains to be seen if Dier will keep his place in mid­field, with Jor­dan Hen­der­son sus­pended, or re­vert back to de­fence as John Stones is also banned.

NEW CHAL­LENGE: Eric Dier

■LION CUB: Hen­der­son made his Eng­land de­but in 2010

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