By Tony Hughes
Eric Dier will start in midfield for England in their World Cup qualifier against Slovenia on Tuesday night, it has been confirmed.
Interim manager Gareth Southgate revealed at a media conference on Monday evening that the Tottenham player would replace Wayne Rooney in central midfield.
Dier is set to partner Jordan Henderson, as Southgate announced that the Liverpool man would take over the captain’s armband from Rooney.
England’s record goalscorer played in central midfield alongside Henderson in Saturday’s 2-0 World Cup qualifier win over Malta.
“It’s very straight forward,” said Southgate, as quoted by the BBC Sports World Cup qualifier blog (6.47pm). “We have looked at the way Slovenia play and I knew in my mind the profile of the midfield I wanted to play in this game.
“In no way is it a reflection of Wayne’s performance on Saturday. He had a lot of the ball, played with great tactical discipline. It’s not an easy decision to take because of the respect I have for him as the captain of this team.”
Asked to explain further why midfield anchorman Dier will come in for Rooney, who has spent most of his career as a forward and has scored 12 goals in his last 20 England outings, Southgate added to the BBC blog: “I think it’s clear that you are talking about two different profiles of player. Different attributes. That’s the basis of the decision.
“As a coach you have to look at the right setup for that game. I knew with this situation that obviously the news would leak. It was pretty obvious that Eric would come into the game.”
Dier had spent a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury before the international break and was a substitute in Spurs’ 2-0 win over Manchester City.