Tottenham Hotspur fans are still licking their wounds after Wednesday’s 3-2 home loss to Southampton, but there’s no rest for the weary (or the wicked). Spurs are back in action at home this Sunday against Wolves, and they’ll still be without a key piece of their first team.
Antonio Conte, in his pre-match press conference, confirmed that central defender Eric Dier will miss his third consecutive match on Sunday with what has been described as a lingering thigh problem. He was held out of the Southampton match and last weekend’s FA Cup win over Brighton as a precaution. Oliver Skipp and Japhet Tanganga also all remain out injured.
“No, unfortunately [Eric] is not fit. For sure, he’s a big loss for us. He needs a bit more time to recover. I don’t know if... I hope to have him available for the next game, away against Manchester City, but for this game for sure he’s not available.”
That could mean a couple of things. The most likely scenario for Wolves is exactly what we saw from the last two matches — a back three of Cuti Romero, Davinson Sanchez, and Ben Davies. That worked really well against Brighton, but less so against Southampton, a team that basically pressed Spurs into oblivion.
It’s also not outside the realm of possibility that Conte could opt to roll the dice and switch things up against Wolves. Joe Rodon is still a Tottenham Hotspur, and could play in the central CB position, allowing Romero to move wide right, which might help to alleviate some of the defensive deficiencies Spurs showed against Southampton. Another option — and stay with me here — would be to move Emerson Royal inward to the right CB position (moving Sanchez to the bench) and pushing a winger like Lucas Moura or Steven Bergwijn to right wing back. Do I think that is going to happen? No. But it’s possible.
It will also be interesting to see what kind of adjustments, if any, Conte will make for Wolves, a team that is every bit as dangerous as Southampton and have both solid midfield options in Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, and Leandro Dendoncker, plus a decent attack in Raul Jiminez and Pedro Neto.
Conte was also asked about if he had any concerns about playing Romero and Son Heung-Min for their third match in a week, especially considering both are just back from injury. Conte said, basically, that he IS worried, but doesn’t have much of a choice.
“Yeah, but we need them. Yeah I know very well that to play three games in seven or eight days could be, not a risk, but yes taking a bit of risk.
“But we need them, they’re important players for us. Especially behind, at the back, Dier in this moment is out so Romero has to play.
“And also Sonny, we need up front to have him because he’s also an important player. I think I’m not telling you anything stupid, about the importance of these players for us. Yeah, they’re going to play.”
Conte also hinted that his newest signings, Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski, are in the frame to start the match against Wolves, but he won’t decide until after training tomorrow.
“For sure this could be a possibility. They are available and we have another day of training sessions to make the right decision. But for sure they’re available and working with the team. I prefer to wait until tomorrow, the last training session and then make the best decision over the starting XI on Sunday.
“[Bentancur] can play....I think the best position for him is to play [as one of] two midfielders. He always played there but then with the national team and also sometimes with Juventus, he also played in a three in the midfield but in my mind the perfect suit for him is to play with the two midfielders.”