England international Eric Dier believes Friday’s match against Germany at Wembley cannot be considered a friendly because of the long rivalry between the two nations.
While England came out on top in the 1966 World Cup final on home soil, Germany have since enjoyed far greater success in the tournament, lifting the trophy in 1974, 1990 and 2014.
Gareth Southgate’s squad has been hit by a number of high-profile withdrawals, with the likes of Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and Dier’s Tottenham team-mates Harry Kane and Harry Winks pulling out due to injury.
But Dier believes the time is right for England – who qualified for the 2018 tournament with ease – to test themselves against top teams such as the world champions and Brazil, who visit Wembley on Tuesday.
“I think the manager has already said that, if we are going to play friendlies, he wants to be playing the very best nations in the world and to challenge ourselves and I think that is the right mentality,” Dier told a news conference.
“These are two really big friendlies. I don’t think there is ever going to be a friendly between England and Germany, so we are really looking forward to it.”
With England progressing through qualification unbeaten, confidence has grown in the squad since a shock loss to Iceland in the first knockout round at last year’s European Championship.
Dier accepts England’s performances at major tournaments have been below par for many years and the versatile 23-year-old claims winning the World Cup is the only measure of success in his mind ahead of the finals in Russia.
“I think the minute we qualified we had to start our focus on the World Cup,” Dier added. “Everything we do from now onwards is with the World Cup in mind, so we are going to prepare for it in the best way we possibly can and that starts on Friday.
“Obviously there is a lot of room for improvement. I wouldn’t just say the last two tournaments, it goes back a long way that England haven’t done well in the tournament.
“I think sometimes people forget that. It’s been a long, long time since you could say England had a successful international tournament.
“Winning it is the only way I’d see it as being successful. There’s a long way to go and this is quite a new group that has come together since the Euros. It’s quite a young team, so I think the margin of progression is huge.”