Southgate to pick Dier or Henderson in England midfield

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Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson

Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson will be competing for one midfield place in England’s starting XI at the World Cup, says manager Gareth Southgate.

Both have captained the Three Lions, with Tottenham’s Dier starting 12 of Southgate’s 16 games in charge and Liverpool’s Henderson starting nine.

Dier played in Saturday’s friendly win over Nigeria,[1] while Henderson will start against Costa Rica on Thursday.

“I think we will only want to play with one ‘pivot’,” said Southgate.

“I would be amazed if the two of them are not important figures for us during the tournament, but there is clearly the possibility they might not both play in every match.

“It is a key decision, but that is management, isn’t it? You either select players, or you choose your system and pick the best people to fit into it. They are the tough calls.”

Southgate has preferred to play a system with three central defenders, two wing-backs, a holding midfielder, three attacking midfielders and a lone striker.

That means captain Harry Kane is most likely to start up front on his own, with Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling playing closest to the Tottenham striker, leaving Leicester’s Jamie Vardy on the bench.

Southgate added: “We have looked at it in training [Kane with Vardy] and at the moment we have not gone with it. We have had Harry with Raheem – we liked the look of that.”

The friendly at Elland Road in Leeds is the last before the Three Lions head to Russia.

Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland will start and Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold will be given his international debut.

England begin their World Cup campaign against Tunisia in Volgograd on 18 June, with further Group G matches against Panama and Belgium.

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BBC Sport – Football