Antonio Conte hinted a Tottenham star will have a big role to play after highlighting multiple positions he can play, though revealed his Harry Kane fear.
The enigmatic Italian looks to already have Tottenham trending in the right direction. Spurs have gone from worst to first in the average team distance covered in the Premier League since Conte succeeded Nuno Espirito Santo.
A high intensity work-rate has always been a hallmark of Conte’s teams. If Spurs are to ultimately compete with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, matching or even surpassing them in the effort stakes is an absolute must.
Now, speaking in his Friday press conference (via Football London), Conte was asked about Tottenham’s rapid improvement.
“I always said to improve the level of the Tottenham team, I have to improve the level of every single player,” said Conte.
“The only way I know is to work, to work with my players and to improve my players. I don’t complain about situations that could be positive or negative but when I spoke, I said something and it was my opinion.
“But at same time, we are working. We are working very well and working every day in hard way to try to improve every single play because this is the only way to improve the level of Tottenham.”
Positional versatility aids Lo Celso’s cause
Conte has given chances to a number of fringe Spurs stars who thus far, have not let him down.
Steven Bergwijn impressed in the League Cup victory over West Ham. Dele Alli, meanwhile, buzzed with energy and intent in the pulsating 2-2 draw with Liverpool.
Another player Conte will be hoping to bring the best out of is Giovani Lo Celso.
Conte was asked if the Argentine is likely to feature heavily over the festive period. His response when noting the multiple positions Lo Celso can play would suggest he’s in Conte’s thinking.
Conte said: “Giovani was injured, if you remember, during the period with the national team. Romero and Giovani Lo Celso came back injured.
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“Romero is still injured and Giovani is trying to have good training sessions, to improve his physical condition and then to be ready to play with us. That is all.”
“He can play as a midfielder, if we decide to play with three midfielders. He can play as a number 10 if we decided to play with two number 10s behind our strikers.”
Conte conflicted over Kane decision
Player welfare has been a point of contention in recent weeks. A meeting between the Premier League and its managers on Thursday was savaged by Conte after deeming it like speaking to a “wall”.
Squad depth will be tested in the coming weeks, but one player who rarely takes a rest is Harry Kane.
When asked if he fears Kane will break down if asked to keep playing 90 minutes every match, Conte was conflicted.
“I know this and it is difficult to start the game without Harry because he is a point of reference in our team,” said Conte.
“For sure these days I speak with him. I speak with the players because I what to understand very well which is the real physical condition.
“If there is someone that has a bit of fatigue, it will be very important to have a good chat with the players because we have to manage this period. This period is not easy but not only for us, but for all the teams in the Premier League.”