Conte warns ‘stupid’ Tottenham selection decision out of the question for Champions League, amid ‘identity’ concerns
Antonio Conte says Dejan Kulusevski will not make the Tottenham squad for Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Eintracht Frankfurt.
The Sweden international had featured in every Spurs match this season until he picked up an injury on international duty. He was looking to continue his impressive run following last season’s impact, but he has had that cut short.
Kulusevski has subsequently missed Tottenham’s past three games, including the north London derby defeat to Arsenal and last week’s draw at Frankfurt.
However, Conte has said it would be “stupid” to play him in the return match against Frankfurt, even if club medics have told him playing only carries minor risks.
“I think Deki is almost ready,” the manager told his pre-match press conference.
“Yesterday he had an MRI and it was really, really positive but at the same time, I spoke to the doctors and they said tomorrow we can have 5 per cent of risk.
“I don’t want to take risk because Deki is an important player for us. It would be stupid. We need patience and we’ve faced this situation well without him. Against Everton I think he will be able to play.”
Still, Brazilian forward Lucas Moura will start from the bench at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after regaining his own fitness.
Antonio Conte warns of Tottenham ‘identity’ problems
Tottenham come into Wednesday’s Champions League clash after answering their critics with a 1-0 Premier League away win at high-flying Brighton.
Conte has faced criticism for not letting his attacking players have freedom and instead playing too defensively.
But, the Italian says he wants his team to have a good balance – especially amid a gruelling pre-World Cup schedule.
“It’s not simple and it’s a difficult situation for all the teams,” he said. “To play every three days is a big effort, you have to try to manage the situation in the best possible way.
“But, at the same time, you know that you have to make rotation, but you know you need to get good results.
“Otherwise, there is a lot of criticism for the results. Fingers crossed, we try to have all the players available to try to make rotation with great balance.
“It’s important in every game to have a good balance and also when you make a lot of rotation, you mustn’t lose your identity. I think this is the most important thing for every team to keep the club at a good level.”
Spurs need solid Champions League result
When Conte gets his tactics right and results come through, he deserves the praise he gets.
Brighton beat Manchester United under now-Chelsea manager Graham Potter at the start of the season.
But, the players took to Roberto de Zerbi’s methods straight away by securing a 3-3 draw at Liverpool.
As such, the tough 1-0 win for Tottenham against the Seagulls was a crucial and timely one amid recent criticism.
However, they must follow that up with a dominant display against Frankfurt.
Tottenham had chances to win in Germany, with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min both frustrating in front of goal.
But, with the home crowd in front of them on Wednesday, Spurs will look to put on a show.