Tottenham Hotspur are set to make their return to Premier League football on Wednesday afternoon against Southampton, hosting the Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. But just like in this weekend’s FA Cup win over Brighton, Spurs will be without two defenders and a midfielder.
Antonio Conte confirmed in his post-match press conference that midfielder Oliver Skipp will miss the match due to injury, along with defenders Eric Dier and Japhet Tanganga. Of those three, it sounds like Dier’s the least concerning, and he again is being held out as a precaution.
“[Skipp] had a [groin] problem but we tried to take care of him. I think we need to have a bit of patience with him. Skippy is another player I have seen great improvement in him. He’s another young player with a lot of space for improvement. It’s a pity that now he’s not available but I hope very quickly to have him with the squad and I asked my medical department to give me this opportunity.
“Honestly I hope to have him back very soon. The medical department said to me two weeks but I hope to have him available in one week or 10 days maximum. For this reason I try to push my medical department because we need Skipp to be available. We’re talking about a good and important player for Tottenham.
“[Dier] had the same problems that he had in the past before playing the last game against Chelsea. He had a little muscular problem in his thigh. It’s not serious but the problem is in the same place as the last time, so for this reason the doctors told me to be patient and not to take risks with him. It’s a pity because you know the importance of this player to us.”
Conte also spoke about Emerson Royal, who has had something of a mixed report card from Spurs fans, but played very well as a right wing back against Brighton. Conte said that Emerson is a quality talent, and that supporters need to have patience and let him develop.
“Emerson played many times in that position in the past when he was at Betis. He played many times in this role. He’s good to play in this role. For sure the wing-backs need to have a lot of running, you need to have resilience during the game because you become a winger when we are attacking and you become a right-back when we are defending. You have to run a lot, you can lose energy, you can lose a bit of quality during the game, but he is a good player.
“We are talking about young players that have a lot of room for improvement. For this reason when I speak, I say we need a bit of patience to develop these young players, they need time to work. Time to work and improve these players in many aspects. They have talent but for sure they have to develop their talent and improve in many aspects to become important players in this league.”
Harry Kane is another player who has seemingly found his shooting boots lately. After his brace in the FA Cup on Saturday, he’s just 30 goals behind Tottenham all-time scoring leader Jimmy Greaves. Conte said he backs Kane to continue to score, and that he thinks Kane can get even better than he is now.
“Honestly I wasn’t worried before in the past when [Kane] didn’t score a lot, because his performance was always very very high, he played very well in every game for the team, he worked a lot for the team and is a fantastic player for me.
“He’s not selfish but now that he’s scoring I’m happy for him and the team, because if he scores we have more probability to get three points or go to the next round in a trophy competition.
“As I said to you before, in the past his performances were very very very positive for me, despite him not scoring a lot in the past. We’re talking about a world-class striker. He’s able to score in every game. We’ve also to try to help him to score.”
Tottenham kicks off against Southampton on Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. UK.