Tottenham summer signing Djed Spence has reacted to Antonio Conte’s harmful comment about his arrival and revealed how he plans to force his way into the team.
Tottenham signed Spence from Championship club Middlesbrough in July. He had spent last season on loan at Nottingham Forest and performed extremely well as they gained promotion back to the Premier League.
Spence thought that experience would stand him in good stead when it came to breaking through at a top-flight club. But the day after he joined Tottenham, Conte seemingly set him up for failure.
During a press conference, he admitted the transfer was a demand of the club’s and that he had little to do with it.
“Spence is an investment of the club. The club wanted to do it,” Conte said.
“I said ‘OK, this player is young but he showed he can become a good, important player for us’. The club decided to buy him.”
Managers normally have a big say in which players are brought to their club so they can form the squad they want. Clearly, there was a bit of disagreement between Conte and senior Spurs officials over whether Spence should be signed.
The right-back has so far endured a torrid spell in north London. He has only managed late substitute appearances against Forest and Everton in the Premier League. These have totalled just two minutes.
Djed Spence tipped for loan exit
Former Spurs defender Alan Hutton thinks the club should let Spence go out on loan in the January transfer window. This would allow him to pick up more game time and continue his development. Then, he could return to Spurs as a more mature player next summer.
There haven’t been any firm transfer links since then. But if Spence does become available for transfer, then lower Prem teams and Championship clubs should be ready to snap him up.
During an interview with the Evening Standard, the 22-year-old has spoken for the first time about Conte’s damaging remarks. “I didn’t really see it, I don’t really pay attention,” Spence said.
“I just train, you know, pay attention to my football and train hard. Let the rest do the rest obviously.”
Spence then spoke about how he must be ‘ready’ when he is given his first Spurs start, so he can force his way into Conte’s plans.
‘I’ve just got to be ready’, says full-back
“I mean I want to play not just in the cup, in the league as well so whether my first start comes in the league or the cup, I’ve just got to be ready,” he added.
“I always believe in myself but football, you never know what happens in football so you’ve just got to be patient and when the time comes, the time will come.”
Spence was then asked about the areas he has improved in since making the jump from Championship to Premier League level.
“Definitely my tactical side. I’m learning a lot from training and learning a lot from the guys, so I am learning a lot at the moment,” he said.
“I guess it is just something new that me, myself, I have got to learn but I am working hard to improve, working hard to get in the team and hopefully I can get some run of games soon. I have just got to be patient and when my time comes, I’ve just got to take it.”
Spence is having to deal with squad competition from the likes of Emerson Royal and Matt Doherty. The latter will probably start when Spurs play Man Utd on Wednesday.
This is because Republic of Ireland international Doherty has impressed Conte while Emerson has been out through suspension.
Spence will have to bide his time and wait for a cup game to be given his first Spurs start. This could happen when they come up against Forest in the Carabao Cup on November 9.