Former Tottenham favourite Paul Robinson has his own theory on why summer signing Djed Spence has hardly featured in Antonio Conte’s side in the early stages of the season.
Spence joined Spurs in a £20million deal from Middlesbrough in July, having excelled on loan at Nottingham Forest last season when the City Ground outfit sealed a return to the Premier League.
However, the 22-year-old has only played a few minutes of action for Tottenham so far, ironically coming on late against Forest in Tottenham’s 2-0 win last weekend.
Spurs boss Conte has previously hinted that Spence was not on his list of summer targets. However, there was a need to bring in more homegrown talent to fill quotas, hence Fraser Forster’s arrival too.
Conte not particularly rating Spence has been trotted out as an excuse for his lack of game time.
However, former Spurs keeper Robinson believes the right-back’s fitness levels are behind the apparent snubs.
He told Football Insider: “I don’t think it will be long before he is integrated into the squad.
“He didn’t play much in pre-season. There is a certain level of fitness that the manager expects from his players before he integrates them into his squad.
“When you look at all of the new signings, they have not come straight into the side. [Yves] Bissouma, Richarlison and [Clement] Lenglet have all had to wait. There is a certain level patience from the manager. He is taking his time and that is no different with Djed Spence.
“He will not be involved much until he is fully match fit and ready to perform. I have no doubts that Spence will be part of the squad and starting XI at some point this season.
“I just think the manager is taking his time with a new, young player.”
Spence should get his chance soon
Spence will likely start on the bench again when Tottenham take on Fulham on Saturday.
Emerson Royal has begun the new campaign well. However, with Champions League group games upcoming, there is a strong chance that Conte could turn to Spence for league outings and use the more experienced Emerson in Europe.
Matt Doherty and Japhet Tanganga can also be thrown into that mix, however. Both have been on the bench in recent games and it was the former who excelled towards the end of last season before picking up an injury.
However, Spence is arguably the most talented of the group. Indeed, his ability to pop up with important goals and assists gives him an edge over his rivals.
It should now be just a matter of time before Conte trusts the player to start regularly.