England youngsters keeping senior players on their toes – Eric Dier
The 24-year-old singled out debutant Jadon Sancho for his ‘positive impact’ on the game in Croatia.
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 came off the bench in the closing stages to make his England debut – the first man to do so who was born this millennium.
Meanwhile 21-year-old left-back Ben Chilwell made his first start and fellow youngsters Mason Mount and James Maddison were on the bench.
A youthful England side created the better chances in the game on the Adriatic coast, with Dier and Tottenham team-mate Harry Kane hitting the woodwork and Marcus Rashford spurning two marvellous chances.
Dier was pleased to see yet another batch of precocious talent come into the squad and feels that it motivates the more senior players to keep improving.
“I feel like the performance was really positive on the whole,” he said.
“Obviously there are a lot of young players in the squad looking to get their chance and keeping everyone on their toes.
“Jadon Sancho, when he came on, I think he was really positive and had a really 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.
“I could, yes,” he replied when asked if the players could hear the supporters.
“England fans, they always find a way!
“It was very strange. Obviously you never want to play in that scenario but it is what it is and 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.”
Next up for England is a trip to face Spain on Monday as their quest for a first Nations League win goes on.
It remains to be seen if Dier will keep his place in midfield with Jordan Henderson suspended, or revert back to playing as part of the defence as John Stones is also banned for the game in