Conte ‘really worried’ about absence of Tottenham star with incomparable qualities; recurring blow confirmed

Antonio Conte managing Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur head coach Antonio Conte has confirmed a new setback for Ryan Sessegnon, while he is also worried about the condition of Oliver Skipp.

Both Sessegnon and Skipp returned to Tottenham in the summer after loan spells to become part of the senior squad again. But injuries have caused Sessegnon to miss 20 games in all competitions so far this season. In Skipp’s case, he has been out since February – missing eight games – with a groin injury.

It is not ideal for Conte in his preparation for Tottenham’s upcoming game against Manchester United. The coach used his pre-match press conference to provide concerning updates about their availability.

“Bad news about Ryan Sessegnon,” Conte began. “He had a scan and he has a muscular problem. Maybe we’ll see him after the international break.

“About Skipp and [Japhet] Tanganga, we are not ready. We have to wait.”

Skipp had made 28 appearances in all competitions before his injury setback. The 21-year-old was becoming an important part of the Tottenham midfield.

Conte is subsequently thin on the ground for options, in his opinion. He would like to recover Skipp – or find someone else with his qualities – as soon as possible.

But he is not yet able to confirm whether he will be seen again this season.

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“Yeah, for sure I am a bit worried,” Conte confirmed. “I’m a bit worried because he started with a groin pain and then now, we are talking about two months, two months and half, that he is out.

“The midfield, I don’t have so many midfielders. There is Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Skipp and [Harry] Winks. To miss for a lot of time Skipp is not simple, and I have to hope also not to have injuries for our midfielders.

“It happened no? Bentancur had a problem and to have only two midfielders, you have to hope also to finish the game without injuries.

Oliver Skipp, Antonio Conte Tottenham v Brentford November 2021

“For sure this is a problem. I am a bit worried, because in my mind, the mind of the player [Skipp], there was the desire to come back very soon, as soon as possible. But in this moment, if you ask me, a forecast about his return with the team, I don’t have an answer.

“I don’t have an answer. For this reason I am really worried, because we are talking about a player who was playing very well. We need him. We need to have another midfielder with his type of characteristic.”

Conte seeks Sessegnon solution

Ryan Sessegnon in action for Tottenham Hotspur

As for Sessegnon, there have been 15 appearances this season in between his injuries. But Conte has not been able to depend on the wing-back in regular bursts.

The Italian is all too aware of the physical issues Sessegnon has experienced. Although he has an idea of a solution, he insists it is another question for his medical staff.

Clarifying what is currently side-lining Sessegnon, Conte confirmed it was a recurrence of a recent issue.

“Yes we are not talking about a problem, not a new problem, we are talking about a situation that unfortunately is repeating,” he said. “Not only in this season but also in the past.

“For sure we have to try with the medical department to find a solution to help this player, but sometimes also, I think that there is a predisposition to have this type of problem and especially muscular problems.

“He’s very strong physically. Sometimes maybe to be so strong physically, instead of being good for your body, sometimes it can be a problem. If we are much stronger than your body can [handle] – it is difficult to speak because we are talking about science. I think about this topic is better to speak with the doctor rather than me.

“For sure we are very disappointed, we are very disappointed. We hope to find the best solution to help him not have many injuries.

“Honestly we were hoping, as for one month and a half he was playing with continuity, also his performances were good, excellent. He was improving.

“I understand, I have seen the disappointment of the player. He is very frustrated. This is the aspect that I worry because he’s very young to see a player like him frustrated about these injuries, is a pity, and also we have to work with him in the human aspect, to stay very close to him and support him.”

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Doherty development delights Spurs boss

On the opposite flank of defence, someone who has been able to find more continuity has been Matt Doherty.

The Irishman has undergone something of a revival recently. Conte is enthusiastic about his confidence and development – as he has been with all his wide men.

“For sure Matt is a player that improved a lot from when I arrived,” he said. “We work, we work hard, on the tactical aspect, on the physical aspect, with the video, with analysis video.

Matt Doherty receiving instructions from Antonio Conte

“During this process, there are players that improve more quickly than the others, and Matt, I think, he improved a lot in these four and a half months.

“Now he is showing also personality, to be confident and for me with this system, the wing-backs are very, very important, very important. To have this improvement is good.

“But at the same time, also the other players showed improvement, Sessegnon, Emerson – he had in the last period a problem, a groin pain. The same for Sergio Reguilon, after Covid.

“For sure my task is to improve every single player. I am happy when we finish the season and I see my players improve their performances and their football knowledge.”

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