Sunday 22 July 2018

Eric Dier urges England to respect next World Cup opponents Panama

The Tottenham midfielder insists Sunday’s clash will be no walkover.

Eric Dier, centre, says Panama must not be underestimated (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Eric Dier, centre, says Panama must not be underestimated (Owen Humphreys/PA)

By Rory Dollard, Press Association Sport, Repino

Eric Dier has cautioned England against complacency when they take on Panama this Sunday, insisting the Central Americans deserve “ultimate respect”.

Spirits in the Three Lions camp are high after they kicked off their World Cup campaign with a 2-1 victory over Tunisia in Volgograd and attentions now turn to Los Canaleros.

The CONCACAF qualifiers are making their first appearance at the tournament and began with a 3-0 defeat in their Group G opener against Belgium.

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England’s Eric Dier says the Central Americans deserve “ultimate respect” (Mike Egerton/PA)

England are heavy favourites to despatch them in similar fashion but Dier, who was a late substitute on Monday night, insists nothing can be taken for granted come kick-off.

“In football you really can’t get carried away and look too far ahead because that’s when things go wrong,” the Tottenham midfielder told Press Association Sport.

“Every game is different but the most important thing, no matter who you’re playing, is to have the ultimate respect for them. Our attitude has to be perfect for every game.

“There won’t be any easy game here, that doesn’t exist any more at the World Cup, it’s a myth. You can make a game easy or you can make a game extremely hard – and the opposition can do the same to you.”

England’s squad boast three of Manchester City’s reigning Premier League champions, a pair of Champions League finalists from Liverpool and a hefty Tottenham contingent spearheaded by in-form striker Harry Kane.

Panama, with a FIFA ranking of 55, lack comparable star power but Dier insists any gulf in class can disappear without the right ethic.

“In football, as much as there is talent and greatness and genius those differences between teams are so small,” he said.

“It’s the attitude and commitment and desire which ultimately puts one team over another one.

“For every single game – whether we’re on the back foot or the front foot it doesn’t matter – as long as those key elements are there I don’t care who is favourite.”

Dier has been a regular for England over the past couple of years but was edged out of the starting XI against Tunisia as Gareth Southgate preferred Jordan Henderson as his single shielding midfielder.

Dele Alli’s quad injury could open up a midfield vacancy but with Ruben Loftus-Cheek impressing from the bench in Volgograd and Fabian Delph also available, Dier’s route into the team looks tricky.

“Being the defensive minded midfielder is the position I feel most comfortable when I do play in midfield, but it depends on what the manager wants and how he wants to play,” he said.

“I feel comfy doing many different things, it varies. Whatever I’m asked to do I’ll try to do that to the best of my ability.”

Press Association

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