Eric Dier defends Tottenham team-mate Dele Alli ahead of World Cup

Eric Dier has defended Dele Alli following a dip in form

Eric Dier believes Dele Alli is unfazed by the “unfair” criticism he receives, saying his Tottenham team-mate “can be proud” of what he has achieved.

Alli has struggled to maintain his impressive goalscoring form of last season – managing only nine Premier League goals this term compared to 18 in the previous campaign and has come under fire for his short temper.

However, Dier has backed Alli, who is among Gareth Southgate’s 25-man squad for the World Cup, to continue progressing but admits his style of play means he will always be the subject of judgement.

When asked whether the criticism is fair, Dier told Sky Sports News: “That is the world we live in, whether it’s fair or not. I don’t think so, but that’s the world he is going to live in for a long time so he will have to get used to it.”

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“He is always going to be someone that is going to divide opinion and I think he is comfortable with that. He’s very comfortable with who he is and I think he should be – he is a fantastic young boy and a great player.

“He can be an even better player, he can improve in everything and I think he knows that but I think he can be very proud of what he is at the moment and hopefully continue to improve on and off the field, like all of us can.”

Dier, with 25 caps, is one of England’s most experienced players expected to board the plane to Russia and he has urged Southgate’s young squad to take an aggressive approach to the tournament.

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“Everyone wants to do as well as possible in this tournament,” he added. “One of the big things is we want to be proactive in this tournament and go head-on into the challenge.

“Obviously, it’ll be a big challenge and you’ll need to have the right attitude to be successful in it and a bit of luck – which everyone needs. Hopefully we can have those things and face the challenge on the front foot instead of being reactive and sitting back.”