Whizz kids make Dier & Co raise their game
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