Eric Dier says suggestions he does not want to play for England could not be further from the truth, insisting his request to return to Tottenham was so he could become a better player for club and country.
The 20-year-old has found himself in the headlines after it emerged he had asked to be excused from England Under-21s’ friendlies against Portugal and France.
Dier’s desire to play in central defence rather than at right-back was cited as the reason behind his request to return to north London and a decision backed by Young Lions manager Gareth Southgate.
Still, the withdrawal has created some ripples, especially having slotted in at right-back in all but two of his 13 appearances since arriving at Spurs in the summer.
Given he sees his future at centre-back, Dier sticks by his decision and has rejected talk he could switch allegiance to Portugal, where the Cheltenham-born defender grew up.
“I spoke to Gareth Southgate and we were in complete agreement that it was the right thing to do,” the Tottenham defender said.
“We had an open conversation and I think he was happy that I could be so honest with him.
“If he wasn’t completely fine with this, then I would never have asked because I would never want to put him in a difficult position.
“He has been fantastic with the whole situation and is really easy to talk to. I certainly would never want to give him or anyone else the wrong impression.
“It is not a case that I don’t want to play for England, that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Dier has represented England at Under-18, 19, 20 and 21 levels, but would still be eligible to play for Portugal on residency grounds.
The defender moved to the country so his mother could work in catering during Euro 2004 and subsequently came through the ranks at Sporting Lisbon.
Dier left for Tottenham in a B#4million summer move and, despite his English heritage and spending a short loan spell at Everton, is still adapting to life back in his homeland, where he had not even been aware the clocks went back.
“Obviously, I have just moved clubs and even though I represent England I have not lived here since I was really young so I am still adapting to my new environment,” he told the club’s official website, www.tottenhamhotspur.com.
“I just felt that this two-week period gives me the opportunity to work on parts of my game that I have had problems with over the past two months, personal elements I need to work on both physically and on the football pitch that I think will make me a better player for both club and country in the long-term.
“It is far from a rest. This is a period where I can spend time at my new club and put a lot of work in to improve because during the season these opportunities do not come around too often for Spurs or England because of the number of games we have to prepare for.”
Dier trained with his Tottenham team-mates on Thursday and is determined to make a mark under Mauricio Pochettino as a central defender.
That does not mean he is unwilling to fill in at right-back at Spurs, though, or any other position for that matter.
“I will never complain to a manager about what position I play as long as I am playing,” Dier said. “I’d even play centre-forward if I was asked to.”
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