Why Eric Dier's England U21 omission reeks of double standards

Considered on merit, the Tottenham defender had to be included in Gareth Southgate's side for the European Under-21 Championships.

England Under-21s' decision to axe Spurs defender Eric Dier from the tournament squad for the upcoming European U21 Championships is baffling for several reasons.

Having featured in five of the country's qualifying games for the Euros, including both playoff matches against Croatia, it would have seemed logical to expect him to take his place in Gareth Southgate's squad.

Roy Hodgson, Southgate and many in the media have continued to stress the importance of England's younger players getting as much as youth tournament football under the belts as possible.

For them, it is the ideal preparation for starring for the full national side.

Indeed, it was that exact reason as to why Harry Kane was selected for the tournament in Czech Republic this month, rather than included with the full England side, despite the fact that the Spurs man has been the country's best striker by some considerable stretch this season.

The argument here was that Kane had helped the Under-21s get to the European Championships, so it would be perfect for the 31-goal man to try and fire England to victory, before presumably making the permanent step up to Roy Hodgson's side.

This led to what ended up being no more than a tiny crisis between the FA and Spurs, who had set up post-season friendlies in Malaysia and Australia and were concerned their new favourite son would be suffering from burn out by the start of next season.

But Kane is in the squad and Dier is not, even though the defender has 36 top flight appearances to his name this season. No member of the England U21 defensive lineup has more than that, or has played more often in the league for a team as high up as Spurs, while only Carl Jenkinson has played more minutes than the former Sporting Lisbon man.

Southgate justifed dropping Dier by explaining that he is the only one of the five centre backs who can't feature for the Under-21s next season, and all played a part in qualification, according to the Guardian, but both John Stones and Calum Chambers can play next season, while Ben Gibson played two games less than 21-year-old Dier in the qualifying process.

So presumably, Southgate is picking Liam Moore, Michael Keane and Gibson over Dier, on account of them being 22-year-olds.

But that fact makes no sense when considered alongside earlier statements emphasising the idea of giving the best young players the most tournament football.

Dier, as an established Premier League defender at Spurs, having played at both centre back and fullback, and is some way ahead of Moore, Keane and Gibson, none of whom can be argued to be as big a talent as the Tottenham star.

Perhaps Southgate is really reminding Dier that he calls the shots when it comes to deciding who is in his squad or not, after the youngster pulled out of an Under-21 squad earlier in the season citing a desire to work on his central defensive training at Spurs.

Or perhaps Southgate just wants as many players as possible to experience some level of international football, regardless of whether they'll ever be good enough to play for the full England side one day.

Either way, Eric Dier is likely to be scratching his head when the Under-21s take to the field against Portugal on June 18.

Register for TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch