Versatile Eric Dier is enjoying being a key man under Pochettino at Spurs
Mauricio Pochettino has rotated his squad on a number of occasions this season but one man has played whenever he has been available – Eric Dier.
Tottenham have played 33 games so far in the Premier League, Capital One Cup, Europa League and FA Cup and Dier has started 32 of them, only missing the league game against Liverpool in October because he was suspended.
Pochettino has given Tom Carroll and Nabil Bentaleb the central midfield berths in the last two FA Cup ties but he has still called upon Dier, selecting him at centre-back rather in his usual holding role in front of the back four.
The 22-year-old stepped forward to score Spurs’ second goal against Colchester on Saturday, his deflected strike taking his tally to four goals this season - and he has dismissed any fears about fatigue as he looks forward to an exciting climax to the season.
“I’m really happy to be playing as much as I am,” he said. “Hopefully every time I play I do as well as I can, to try to repay the manager’s faith in me.
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“I never complain about playing, I’m happy to be playing as regularly as I am. I feel extremely fit, I feel great, so there’s no problem.
“It’s very exciting, the three biggest competitions for us, we’re still in all three and in good positions in all three. We’re looking forward to [the coming months].
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“We’re looking forward to the Europa League starting again and obviously the Premier League run-in is the big one for everyone isn’t it.
“With us being up there [in the table] we’ve had a bit more attention on us but I think everyone’s just enjoying it. I don’t think everyone feels any extra pressure, we’re just really enjoying it at the moment and we’re just going to keep trying to do what we’ve done so far.”
Dier was used as a centre-back and as a right-back in his first season at White Hart Lane, having arrived from Sporting Lisbon for a mere £4million in the summer of 2014, but he has shown even more versatility this term.
Eyebrows were raised when Pochettino deployed him in central midfield at the start of the campaign but he has thrived in the role, while also slipping effortlessly back into the centre of defence in two of his last four games.
That flexibility could be useful given Jan Vertonghen is expected to be out of action for two months, while Federico Fazio has been allowed to rejoin his former club Sevilla on loan after only making one appearance this season.
“They’re different positions but obviously when you play at centre-back you’ve got a bit more time and everything’s in front of you, so it’s a bit different - but I enjoy doing both,” said Dier.
“I’ve been playing in a new position so I’m starting from scratch really. I think everyone was doubting it at the beginning but I wasn’t too bothered to be honest as long as the manager was happy with me, so I kept on playing and I think gradually I’ve been improving more and more in midfield.
“It’s given me a lot - it’s given me my England debut and a lot of games for Spurs - so I’m very happy, but I’m happy to be playing wherever the manager wants.”
Tottenham travel to face Norwich City tomorrow night (Tuesday), 10 days after the Canaries suffered a last-minute 5-4 home defeat to Liverpool.
“It’s going to be a really tough game,” said Dier. “We saw a bit of the Liverpool game before our game [at Crystal Palace] last weekend and it’s going to be a very tough place to go. I’ve seen a couple of games at Norwich where teams have struggled.
“Every Premier League’s game tough but even more so away from home, but we’re looking forward to it.
“They’ve signed quite a few players in this window so they’re going to be up for it. They should be disappointed with last weekend so we know it’s going to be tough for us.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs