Tottenham boss Antonio Conte admits he has been left shocked by the speed at which veteran winger Ivan Perisic is recovering from his injury.
Spurs signed the experienced Croatia international on a free transfer from Inter Milan this summer, with the 33-year-old’s qualities well known to Conte after their time together at Inter Milan.
Perisic is expected to be a regular starter for Tottenham in the left wing-back position. However, he suffered a calf injury on the final day of last season with Inter and has been recovering since.
Despite playing 70 minutes of the friendly loss to Roma, there are concerns Perisic will not be fit enough to start against Southampton in the Premier League opener on Saturday.
And speaking ahead of the game, Conte admitted it could be a gamble to start Perisic.
He told The Athletic: “It’s normal after a serious injury to be struggling a bit to come back in the best physical condition. Honestly, I’m surprised because he reduced his time to recover. We are really happy.
“At the same time we are not worried but we have to pay a bit of attention to give him the right time to adapt himself to recover 100 per cent after his injury.
“But, I know him very well and he is a very good addition for us. It will be really important for his experience for the younger players.
“Sessegnon is a player who plays in the same role. Ivan can teach him a lot of situations to improve Sess. But even for sure he is a really good addition for us for many aspects. Then we will see. We have another training session tomorrow. Play him or Sess.”
Conte faces tough Perisic, Sessegnon selection call
Sessegnon is a player who was much improved as last season went on. Indeed, he was regularly picked ahead of Spain international Sergio Reguilon, who fell out of favour.
But Conte may decide to start with the experience of Perisic and then turn to the fresh legs of Sessegnon.
Two players who are not expected to feature against Southampton, however, are Oliver Skipp and Yves Bissouma.
Skipp suffered a foot injury in training this week, while new boy Bissouma is troubled by a hamstring issue.
That means Conte will likely go with his tried and trusted engine room of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur against Saints.