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TEAM NEWS: Romero back, but Bentancur out vs. Villa

Lolo’s World Cup injury was worse than everyone thought.

Argentina v France: Final - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

There’s good news and there’s bad news coming out of Antonio Conte’s press conference ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s match against Aston Villa on New Year’s Day. The good news is that Cristian Romero is back, fully fit, and ready to play at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium tomorrow. The bad news is that Rodrigo Bentancur, who picked up an injury in the World Cup playing for Uruguay, is still injured and won’t be returning tomorrow as expected.

“Romero is back and he’s available for the game against Aston Villa. Rodrigo, I think we have to wait, maybe today he is going to have an MRI to try to have an evaluation about his injury. For sure tomorrow against Villa, he’s not available. He had an injury in the World Cup and also the timing is more long than my expectation. This question is more for the medical department than me.”

Craaaaaaaaaap. Lolo’s abdominal injury was supposed to be fully healed by this point, but if he’s having an MRI that means that it’s more significant than thought. Romero has a muscle injury, however, and those can be weird when it comes to recovery; sometimes they just take longer than everyone expects. Conte notably did not put a time table on when we might expect to see Bentancur back on the pitch, and that’s never a good feeling.

It will, however, be very good to have Romero back in the lineup. Cuti played very well in Argentina’s World Cup title-winning run, and he’s such an important piece of Spurs’ defensive line. Conte said that he has no concerns about having to keep Romero’s head out of the clouds, but he’s warned Cuti that the expectations on him will only go up from here.

“From what I saw in last few days in training session, I have seen [Romero] with great focus and great desire to come back and play for us. For sure I am really happy for him and it is important to have in our team two World Cup champions. But he has to know very well that now starts the more difficult period for him because expectation is going to become high for him. For this reason he has to work even more and continue to work.”

Spurs kick off against Aston Villa at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium tomorrow (Saturday) morning, 9:00 a.m. ET / 2:00 p.m. UK.