Eric Dier believes Gareth Southgate’s ruthless selection for England’s prestige friendlies against Germany and Brazil will help guard against complacency.
Southgate axed squad regulars Daniel Sturridge, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jermain Defoe and Chris Smalling for the glamorous double header, continued to overlook Jack Wilshere and trimmed peripheral figures including Fraser Forster and Aaron Cresswell.
The manager had indicated ahead of October’s World Cup qualifiers that injuries left him selecting players who were fortunate to get the call and there can be no doubt now that he is serious.
Tottenham midfielder Dier backed Southgate’s decision and thinks it will keep the nation’s best players hungry.
“It is the way it has to be,” he said. “Playing for your country is the pinnacle of football. It is what you all want to do and it has to be special. I think that it’s essential, you cannot just think you will be in every squad because you have done ‘X and X’ in previous years. It has to be constant.
“You always have to be on your toes to get the call-up otherwise you can become complacent and I don’t think that is a good thing.”
Dier, having survived the mini cull, can now look forward to appearing against two of the game’s super powers at Wembley.
The sides are currently ranked one and two in the world by FIFA, Friday’s opponents Germany taking top spot, and will provide a clearer barometer of where England are than recent opponents Slovenia and Lithuania.
Asked by one reporter about the dangers of being “embarrassed” by the pair, Dier merely welcomed the test.
“I don’t really see it as a risk. If we get embarrassed then there is a lot more to work on,” he said. “If we don’t, we are on the right path.
“If we want to be prepared for one of the biggest sporting events in the world we have to prepare by facing the best. The manager has already said that if we are to be playing friendlies, he wants to be playing against the best nations in the world and to challenge ourselves. I think that is the right mentality to have.”
The 23-year-old, who is happy to play in defence or midfield having alternated at Spurs this season, has mixed memories of facing Germany.
He grabbed a stoppage-time winner as England came from 2-0 behind to beat Joachim Low’s side in Berlin 18 months ago but was also involved in March’s 1-0 defeat in Dortmund.
“The last time we lost but I have fantastic memories of the first one,” he said. “That was one of my best memories of international football. It was a great night and hopefully we can have another one on Friday.
“There will never be a ‘friendly’ between England and Germany and we are really looking forward to it.”