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Conte: Kulusevski out, but Lucas in contention for Champions League vs. Frankfurt

One out of two ain’t bad.

Chelsea FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

Antonio Conte’s pre-Champions League press conference took place today after all, and he gave an update on his two injured players. There’s good news and bad news — the good news is that Lucas Moura is back in contention for minutes for tomorrow’s match against Eintracht Frankfurt after having three full training sessions. The bad news is that Dejan Kulusevski will be held out as a precaution (but he’s close to a return, possibly as soon as this weekend’s match against Everton).

“Deki started to have a little part of the training session with us but he will not be available tomorrow. Lucas Moura is available despite having only two or three training sessions, but tomorrow he is with us on the bench. No other problems. No other injuries.

“[Deki] is very close to being ready. He had an MRI and that was really, really positive. At the same time, I spoke to the doctor and he said there would be a 5% risk if we played him tomorrow. I don’t want to take risks because Deki is a very important for us. It would be really stupid to try to risk him and lose him for the rest of our nine games. A bit of patience and we will try to use him in the best possible way. With Everton, probably he will be available to play.”

This possibly (probably?) means that we could see the 3-5-2 formation again at home against Eintracht, with Lucas possibly coming on as a second half super-sub. Maybe Conte will rotate his fullbacks again as well — Ivan Perisic came on as an attacking wide midfield sub against Brighton, but he’d be in line to start at left wingback along with Emerson Royal, who still has two matches left on his Premier League suspension to go. I’d expect he’s a lock to start at RWB.

Conte also talked about how important this match is for Spurs’ Champions League campaign, and how participating in so few matches in the competition maximizes every opportunity to get points in the group stage.

Especially in this type of tournament - the Champions League, the Europa League - you play not many games. Because the Premier League, Italian League and the French League, the best team usually wins the competition after 38 games. It is usually the side which has shown itself to be more regular and deserves to win.

“In this competition sometimes you need a bit of luck and in the past, maybe one team has deserved to win and they dropped out because the ball hit the post instead of going into the net. For sure a bit of luck is important, but I don’t like to think that we need to have luck to win because the first most important thing is to work, know everything about your opponent, have your team really well prepared and face the game in the right way.

“For sure tomorrow is a very important game and the players know that very well. We have played three games and have got four points. I have always said to you that this group has great balance and in any event you can gain points and lose points.

“Now we have two games in row at home and we need to exploit these two games because in our mind and our heart and our desire there has to be only one thought - to go to the next round. This has to be very to go next round. Any my players know very well we have the possibility to do it, but for sure we have to show we deserve to go through to the next round.”