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England boss Gareth Southgate World Cup masterplan

England manager Gareth Southgate plots masterplan ahead of Russia World Cup with Eric Dier posed to play central in a back-three defence

  • Gareth Southgate has been dedicating huge amount of time to England tactics
  • The Three Lions boss is devising a plan to give the England a new-look defence
  • Southgate wants the national team's back line to be able to play out with the ball
  • As a result Eric Dier is being lined up to play centrally in a back-three system

By Matt Lawton and Sami Mokbel for the Daily Mail

Published: 22:31 GMT, 15 November 2017 | Updated: 22:31 GMT, 15 November 2017

Gareth Southgate has a masterplan for next summer’s World Cup that will move Eric Dier to the centre of a ball-playing back three.

A lack of options meant the England manager needed Dier in midfield and was unable to experiment with the system in the friendlies with Germany and Brazil.

Southgate sees Dier as a key member of his side and essentially wants him to run the game from that central defensive role.

Gareth Southgate is planning a masterplan for the World Cup which sees Eric Dier in defence

Gareth Southgate is planning a masterplan for the World Cup which sees Eric Dier in defence

Tottenham’s Dier has spent much of his career playing at centre half and earlier this week Southgate hinted that he could see him returning there.

‘I had a really good discussion with his dad over his development (a few years ago),’ Southgate said. ‘At that time he wanted to focus on establishing himself with Spurs as a centre back. He felt that was where he’d play in the future, and it still might be, I think.

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‘He has a good tactical understanding on the field and is a good sounding board for me.’

In the absence of Harry Kane and other senior players, Southgate named Dier as captain against Germany and Brazil, a measure of how highly he is rated. It is likely Kane will be captain in Russia, but Dier is fast becoming a hugely influential figure.

Southgate has praised Dier's reading of the game and admits he is a good sounding board

Southgate has praised Dier's reading of the game and admits he is a good sounding board

Sportsmail understands that, if the World Cup started tomorrow and everyone was available, John Stones and Phil Jones would be deployed either side of Dier, the wider role allowing Stones to make best use of his skill on the ball.

The preferred formation is a fluid 3-5-1-1, with Kane and Dele Alli up front and with two wing-backs and three midfielders in support.

Jordan Henderson is considered by Southgate to be the best option in the holding midfield role, with two running midfielders ahead of him. Adam Lallana would fill one of those places with Southgate yet to decide on the other berth. Harry Winks and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are among the contenders.

Kyle Walker and Danny Rose would occupy the wing-back roles, though Ryan Bertrand is understood to be pushing the Tottenham man close on the left.

It is understood John Stones would play wide of Dier, to best utilise his abilities on the ball

It is understood John Stones would play wide of Dier, to best utilise his abilities on the ball

Joe Hart, for now, remains first-choice goalkeeper.

Southgate’s plans leave question marks over the roles of Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling.Both are viewed as potent attacking threats. Sterling, in particular, is having a superb season.

Things can change between now and the summer. Indeed, Southgate insists it is not too late for players on the peripheries.

‘Absolutely, other players have time. We have selected on form and what we think the players are capable of,’ said Southgate. ‘If players are playing well and we are seeing things we think fit into the team, we will pick them.’

But Southgate already has a World Cup blueprint in place as he heads into his first tournament as senior manager.

Stones is adamant no matter who Southgate picks, England must keep the ball better if they want to mount a serious challenge.

Marcus Rashford has been promising for England and will be aiming for a World Cup spot Despite his fine season Raheem Sterling may not fit right into Southgate's plans

Southgate's 3-5-1-1 system casts uncertainty on Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling's roles

The Manchester City defender, who was outstanding in both friendlies, said: ‘I thought we could’ve used the ball better. We all know that.

‘But how we defended as a team and dug in as a team, we came off the pitch really pleased. You see what attacking threat Brazil had and what problems they caused us — we snuffed that out quite quickly. You can’t argue with two clean sheets against two top teams.’

Alongside Joe Gomez and Harry Maguire, Stones was the senior defender against Brazil.

‘From my experiences, I try to pass it on to the younger lads and give them a few words,’ he said. ‘That’s what I found when I was growing up. I didn’t want to have too much information.’

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