London (AFP) – England’s Euro 2016 humiliation by Iceland means they will never again underestimate teams like Sunday’s opponents Lithuania, according to Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Eric Dier.
Dier was a member of the team stunned 2-1 by Iceland in Nice last year as England crashed to their most embarrassing defeat since a 1-0 loss to the part-timers of the United States at the 1950 World Cup.
Gareth Southgate’s men will start as strong favourites at Wembley, as they look to defend their place at the Group F summit, but Dier says thoughts of Iceland will not be far away.
“Whenever you’re in an England squad, you’re going to think about it. It’s a painful reminder and it’s a good lesson for the future,” he told reporters on Friday.
“We can look back on that game and what we didn’t do and in games like the one on Sunday try to do what we didn’t.”
He added: “We have to be confident going into it, try to play quick, attacking football and hopefully they won’t be able to handle that.”
Having tested a 3-4-2-1 system in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Germany, Southgate may decide to revert to the back four he used in the three qualifiers he oversaw at the end of last year.
With Chelsea’s Gary Cahill suspended and Manchester United pair Chris Smalling and Phil Jones having withdrawn due to injury, John Stones will expect to regain his place at centre-back.
The Manchester City defender started on the bench in Dortmund, where Burnley’s Michael Keane made an accomplished debut.
Uncapped Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson has been drafted into the squad to provide cover at centre-back.
Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford is also pushing for a starting berth, while Jermain Defoe will hope to feature after returning to the squad following an absence of nearly four years.
– Terror tributes –
Lithuania made a steady start to qualifying, drawing with Slovenia and Scotland before beating Malta 2-0, but were then given a rude awakening by a 4-0 defeat in Slovakia.
Edgaras Jankauskas’s side, who are without an away win in six competitive games, sit fourth in the group, five points below England and three points off the play-off place.
The Lithuania manager, whose side were beaten 3-0 by the Czech Republic in a friendly on Wednesday, says his team will draw encouragement from England’s defeat by Iceland.
“World-class players should not be affected by pressure,” Jankauskas told The Times newspaper.
“When you are privileged to play every week in great stadiums and the best league in the world, then you should get used to the pressure and you have to cope with the pressure.
“It is your job week in, week out. In the Euros we saw that on the day England were not ready. I have total faith in my players.”
Following Wednesday’s terror attack in London, which left four people dead and over 50 injured, British police have pledged to boost security for Sunday’s game.
“In collaboration with the local authorities and Met Police there will be an enhanced security operation for England v Lithuania on Sunday, to ensure a safe and secure environment,” said a Football Association spokesperson.
“Supporters are encouraged to arrive as early as possible to avoid any delays in entering the stadium.”
There will be armed patrols around the stadium, while England’s players will wear black armbands and there will be a minute’s silence prior to kick-off.
The match programmes will also contain a tribute to former England manager Graham Taylor, who died in January at the age of 72.
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