Tottenham Hotspur supporters got a good look at backup goalkeeper Fraser Forster on Wednesday in Spurs’ friendly draw against OGC Nice. They’ll get an even better look at him on Monday when Spurs head to Brentford to resume Premier League action. Antonio Conte announced in his pre-match press conference today that Forster, signed this summer as a free agent, will start his first Premier League match for Spurs ahead of World Cup finalist Hugo Lloris.
Conte also announced that Lloris and Cristian Romero, who won the World Cup in Qatar, will be back for Spurs’ New Years’ Day match against Aston Villa, along with Rodrigo Bentancur. Ivan Perisic, however, is in the frame to play on Monday.
“About the players that played the final and third-fourth place, Perisic, Hugo and Cuti, only Ivan, who came back today and had a training session with us, is available for the game against Brentford. About Lloris we want him to stay with us and want him to also to stay on the bench against Brentford.
“As you know very well it is important also after World Cup to give bit of rest these players. About Cuti, he will be available for next game against Aston Villa, I hope so.
Conte also gave a little more detail on Lucas Moura, whom he said is still fighting injury and fitness, and expressed confidence that Forster would hit the ground running in Lloris’ absence.
“About Lucas Moura, we didn’t have him from the start of the season. And we are continuing to not have him. He has this problem, he is struggling a lot to find a solution. For sure it’s a difficult situation. Because I have a good player in my squad, but he’s never available. It’s like you don’t have him.
“It’s a pity because I repeat: we are talking about a good player, a good guy, but he is struggling a lot to solve this problem. I don’t know, I don’t know what in the future happens about him.
“Fraser, we are talking about a reliable keeper, a good keeper. I remember when I was the coach of Juventus that he played with Celtic, and he impressed me a lot during the game. We played there in the last-16 against Celtic. We are talking about a really good professional player, and he is reliable, and I can count on him. He is going to play against Brentford.”
Conte also spoke about Harry Kane, but not in terms of will-he-or-won’t-he play on Monday, which itself was a strong hint that the England captain would slot right back into the starting lineup against Brentford. Conte was asked if Kane’s devastating penalty miss in England’s loss to France would negatively affect him upon his club football return, a notion that the Spurs boss waved away.
“No, honestly because we’re talking about a world-class striker but at the same time, you know football is this. Football you can have exciting moments and you can also have moment where you are a bit disappointed because you missed a penalty, the second penalty as the first he scored. But me, when I was a player I never missed a penalty because I didn’t kick. Never! Because I was a real disaster at it. But with a penalty I lost a World Cup against Brazil and I think you live this moment and you are really disappointed.
“For sure the first period you are sad but then you know that you have to move on. Football gives you the opportunity to have other chances to enjoy football. Because don’t forgot we do this job and also we are really lucky because we can enjoy this sport. Football gives us the possibility to play in the sport we have a lot of passion (for). Honestly I am not worried about him. I saw him very well in these two days with us.”
Tottenham start the back half of the season in fourth place and in good position to finish in the top four ensuring Champions League qualification, but with the knowledge that they seemed to underperform expectations in the first part of the season. Conte spoke about how the second half of the season after the World Cup is a “fresh start” for the club and that playing away to Brentford is an opportunity to get things off on the right foot.
“To play after 41 days, it is strange because usually you have this time to prepare the new season during the summer, after your players rested and your mind was clear. Instead, also during the World Cup, I followed all my players with fingers crossed because you know very well you can lose players, important players. It happened that Richarlison had problems, Bentancur had problems, Ben Davies had problems.
“It is a new, fresh start for the players that we worked with for four weeks. But for the others it is a big effort in my opinion, it is a big effort. I don’t know which is the answer, I don’t know honestly. Because this is the first time to face this type of situation.”