Phil Thompson calls for England to be brave and resist the urge to pick Eric Dier against Croaita

Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2018 by

Phil Thompson calls for England to be brave and resist the urge to pick Eric Dier against Croaita

Jordan Henderson was replaced by Eric Dier in England's World Cup quarter-final win over Sweden

Phil Thompson has called on England to "go for it" against Croatia and resist the urge to beef up their midfield by picking Eric Dier.

England have enjoyed a fantastic World Cup campaign and, following Saturday's 2-0 defeat of Sweden, only Croatia stand between Gareth Southgate's men and Sunday's final in Moscow.

Croatia boast a very strong midfield that includes Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic and there have been calls from some quarters for England to pick Dier in midfield alongside Jordan Henderson to stifle the high-class pair.

However, Thompson thinks Southgate should ignore the temptation to shuffle his pack.

"Go for it and be brave," said Thompson.

"This Croatia team is a good team but England are a better all-round side. We'll have enough players in that central position to close down on them. In Croatia's last two games, teams have identified Modric and Rakitic and closed them down - the numbers of balls played forward by those two has decreased.

"Henderson is very important to England and the way he's learned to press under Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool. He's not Steven Gerrard in the way he plays but he knows that. He's been fantastic. Just because he doesn't go around shouting about it then he doesn't get the credit that is due. It's not surprised me the way he's played. We saw in the Belgium game why Henderson was picked ahead of Dier - he's had a terrific tournament."

One area where England will surely look to target will be Harry Kane up against Dejan Lovren.

The defender was substituted after just 30 minutes when Kane scored twice for Tottenham against Liverpool last season in the Premier League at Wembley.

Thompson has backed Kane to win that battle once again.

"We have to talk about the Tottenham v Liverpool game at Wembley when Harry Kane ran Dejan Lovren ragged," he said.

"He won't want to go through that again. It was a very difficult afternoon for Lovren. Kane doesn't let anything or anyone affect him. You can guarantee both Lovren and Domagoj Vida will have their toughest test of the tournament so far against Kane. It'll be a great match-up but Kane will come out on top."

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