Eric Dier wants to concentrate on being a center back, not a right back. The young Spurs defender turned down an invitation to play for his country in Gareth Southgate's U21 England squad because he wants to work on developing his game with Spurs as a central defender, and Southgate has graciously allowed him to do so.
"Eric has my blessing. I am totally comfortable with this," said Southgate according to the BBC. "Long term we both agree that he is unlikely to be a full-back and is going to be a centre-half."
Dier expounded on his decision in some recent tweets and an article on Spurs' official site.
I spoke to Gareth Southgate and we were in complete agreement that it was the right thing to do. We had an open conversation and I think he was happy that I could be so honest with him. If he wasn't completely fine with this then I would never have asked because I would never want to put him in a difficult position.
It not a case that I don't want to play for England, that couldn't be further from the truth.
I just felt that this two-week period gives me the opportunity to work on parts of my game that I have had problems with over the past two months, personal elements I need to work on both physically and on the football pitch that I think will make me a better player for both club and country in the long-term.
It is far from a rest. This is a period where I can spend time at my new club and put a lot of work in to improve because during the season these opportunities do not come around too often for Spurs or England because of the number of games we have to prepare for."
Eric Dier is not a right back, but you'd be forgiven for thinking that he is. For all but a few minutes of his Tottenham career he has been shoehorned into playing wide right for Spurs due to a combination of injuries, suspensions, and some fantastic form early on. He started the first match of the season against West Ham at CB but was shunted out wide after Kyle Naughton picked up a red card. Due to the injuries to Kyle Walker and Naughton, all of his playing time since, both at Spurs and his England U21 matches, have been at right back. But that's not his position.
Kyle Walker is now training with the first team and DeAndre Yedlin is expected to join Spurs in January, filling out Spurs' right back roste. Dier wants to try and work on cementing a place in Mauricio Pochettino's plans as a CB, and playing for England as a right back won't help him do that. Southgate understands this, and everyone's happy.
Dier hasn't shown his best for Spurs as a right back, but it's unfair to criticize him for being poor at something that isn't really his job. He is, by all indications, a very promising young central defender, and hopefully this break will allow him to further develop his game and prove it.