Eric Dier said England’s young players “cannot play the age card forever” as they seek to grow into a World Cup campaign and end the country’s familiar under-achievement at big tournaments.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Group F qualifier at home to Lithuania, the England midfielder was asked if a largely young and untested group of players might peak in the finals in Russia in 2018.
“We might be quite young but I don’t think we can play the age card forever,” he told reporters on Friday.
“I’m 23 now and I don’t think that’s very young. We’ve all played a lot of games and age isn’t everything,” he added.
“In all internationals now there’s no easy game and every team sets up to try and stop us, especially here at Wembley. We want to play quick, exciting football and hopefully they won’t be able to handle that. We have to be aggressive with the ball and move it quickly.”
Dier was part of the England team who flopped so badly at Euro 2016, where they were humiliatingly beaten 2-1 by Iceland in the round of 16, an exit that led to the resignation of manager Roy Hodgson followed by a familiar inquest at home.
“Whenever you’re in an England squad now we will think of that Iceland defeat. It’s a painful reminder but it’s a good lesson for the future,” Dier said.
Hodgson’s replacement Sam Allardyce lasted 67 days in the job before leaving it following a newspaper sting.
Former Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate was put in charge, overseeing a creditable 1-0 defeat by Germany in a friendly in Dortmund last Wednesday.
Southgate has indicated that the England captaincy could be rotated in future, and Dier said he would like to be on the roster.
“It’s an ambition of mine, I would love to do that one day. I think I can do that job but it’s up to the manager to decide.”
“Gareth has been around the England set-up for a while. I don’t think he’s eager to change everything, it’s just little things here and there,” Dier added.
“We are a very young team and we want to be part of something with him that’s something special.”