Eric Dier: Tottenham defender opted out of England Under-21s
Tottenham's Eric Dier asked not to play for England Under-21s so he can focus on winning a centre-half place with his club, Gareth Southgate has revealed.
Dier, 20, played right-back as England qualified for next summer's European Under-21 Championship last month.
But he has since told Under-21 manager Southgate that he wants to train with Spurs rather than appear in upcoming friendlies with Portugal and France.
"Eric has my blessing. I am totally comfortable with this," said Southgate.
Dier "feels there are parts of his game that he wants to work at", Southgate added, with the player keen to develop his abilities in a more central role.
"Long term we both agree that he is unlikely to be a full-back and is going to be a centre-half," he said.
|Eric Dier's career|
|Dier played 28 league games for Sporting Lisbon, as well as featuring in the second tier for their B team - and the Premier Reserve League for Everton. He has played for England at Under-19, 20 and 21 level but would still be eligible for Portugal on residency grounds.|
Dier has been deployed at right-back in all but two of his 13 appearances for Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs since he joined the club from Sporting Lisbon in a £4m deal over the summer.
But the return to fitness of regular Spurs right-back Kyle Walker after eight months out injured could herald a change in Dier's role in Pochettino's back line.
"He wants to start establishing himself as a centre-back at Tottenham in the medium term and there will be a benefit to that working on it in these periods. It was quite refreshing," Southgate added.
"It's unusual because you don't get many players coming to you who say: 'I think I know what I need to work at.' He's very focused on what he feels like he wants to do."
Southgate's Young Lions face Euro 2015 group-stage rivals Portugal at Turf Moor on Thursday night before meeting France in Brest on Monday.