Antonio Conte explained why he’s reluctant to rotate a key star not named Harry Kane, and hinted why a fringe forward isn’t getting minutes in the Premier League.
While Arsenal are stealing the headlines in north London, Conte quietly has his Spurs side bubbling away nicely. The derby defeat was a stain on their season, though despite failing to hit top form just yet, Tottenham continue to rack up the wins.
They sit third in the league and their crucial victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in midweek thrust them atop Group D in the Champions League.
Harry Kane has, unsurprisingly, started all 13 of Tottenham’s matches in the EPL and UCL. However, he is not the only outfield player to do so.
Eric Dier has become a constant in Conte’s plans, anchoring the back three from his central position.
Dier, 28, looks a rejuvenated figure and is surely a shoe-in to make England World Cup squad. But with fixtures coming thick and fast until the World Cup begins, Conte was asked whether he’s tempted to give Dier a match off.
Speaking in his Friday press conference, the Italian explained why he’s reluctant to rotate the centre-back.
Eric Dier = rotation proof
“There are specific roles that is very, very difficult to make rotation,” explained Conte (via Football London).
“I think that position, the central defenders, is very very important. I think he is playing a really good season.
“In that position, we can use also Cristian Romero, [Davinson] Sanchez could play, but if I have the possibility and the player give me the availability and tell me that he recovered energy, there are positions in the team that it is better to continue to play.”
One position that has seen heavy rotation is right wing-back. Emerson Royal has been given the nod more often than not, though Matt Doherty is in the mix. Ivan Perisic has also deputised on his less familiar right side.
Emerson remains suspended following his red card against Arsenal. Conte suggested Doherty will get the nod against Everton on Saturday, and provided an update on the rarely seen Djed Spence.
“We played without Emerson at Brighton and I was really pleased with Matthew,” added the Italian.
“He’s struggled this guy to come back to a good level. Last season he struggled but then he became a really important player for us.
“Also Djed, he’s working and he’s improving and he’s starting to understand which is the demand to stay at Tottenham. I’m pleased to have more options.”
Finally, Conte hinted why Bryan Gil is yet to receive a single minute of Premier League action this season.
Why can’t Gil get off the bench?
Gil was heavily linked with a loan switch to Valencia over the summer. Spurs were willing to sanction the move, but the deal fell apart once they were unable to land a suitable replacement.
He’s made the bench in six of Tottenham’s nine league matches this season, though is still awaiting his first call from Conte.
Explaining why, the Spurs boss suggested he’s concerned over Gil’s ability to handle himself physically in the rough and tough Premier League.
“Yeah but you know that for me all the players in my squad are really important,” said Conte. “They have to show me that they are ready to help us. I ask only this.
“But I have great respect for all my players and I think this respect, they feel this respect because in every training session my attention is the same for every single player, for Harry Kane but also if the player is White or Pape Sarr.
“We are talking about two really important prospects.
“I ask only to give me the opportunity to be relaxed and if I give the opportunity to these players to play, only this.
“Gil is really good prospect. He is becoming stronger, physically. Because he has in this moment only this gap for Premier League, it’s physical, you know?
“Otherwise technically he understands football in an important way. I’m sure that we’re talking about a player that will be an important prospect for the future.
“Now he’s building also, he’s improving on the physical aspect and for us that’s important.”