Antonio Conte gave his weekly press conference ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s trip to Brentford on Saturday and the good news is that his team is practically as healthy as possible. Conte announced that as of this morning there were no new injuries at Spurs, with Matt Doherty, Japhet Tanganga, and Oliver Skipp still out of action.
That means the team pretty much picks itself based on Spurs’ past starting lineups. Really the only possible question is what Conte decides to do at left back — Ryan Sessegnon has yet to feature since returning from a long-term injury of his own, but Sergio Reguilon has struggled somewhat in over the past couple of matches.
Conte was quick to praise the injured Skipp, whom the club announced yesterday had signed a new long term contract at the club through the 2027 season.
“I’m very happy for Skippy because we are talking about a good player, a young player from an academy. We know very well a player who has developed. He’s not only a good player, we are talking about a fantastic guy. He’s having a bit of problem with his injury. I know his frustration. I think his new contract shows we trust him a lot. He’ll be very important for the present and future of Tottenham.”
In an interview video on Spurs’ website yesterday, Skipp talked about his injury and the struggles he’s had returning to match fitness, but expressed positivity that Spurs fans would be seeing him soon and that he’d be ready to take his game to the next level.
Spurs fell to earth somewhat last weekend against Brighton, falling to Graham Potter’s men thanks to a late Leandro Trossard goal. Conte spoke about the importance of every fixture from here on out as Spurs’ battle for a top four finish and a spot in the Champions League next season is likely going to go down to the wire.
“Now for sure we are in this race, I want to try to stay until the end. We know very well the difficulty. I don’t think Chelsea can go in this race because Chelsea is in my opinion in a different level. They are there because they missed some games but they must stay in this race. We have to fight with Arsenal who showed yesterday to be in good form, with Man United, West Ham and also there is Wolverhampton.
“For sure our hope and our desire is in every game to play well and to score goals. You know very well that every game is not simple and every game is difficult. In every game you have to be 100 per cent. I think during a season it can happen this type of situation. Don’t forget Brighton won the last game against Arsenal and yesterday Manchester City struggled before the first goal. I think a draw was more fair but we have to learn that there are games that if you can’t win you can’t lose. At the end of the season even one point might help you reach your target.”
The other narrative swirling around Saturday’s match is of course the impending meeting with Christian Eriksen. The former Tottenham and Inter attacking midfielder has been on an excellent streak of form that has corresponded pretty directly to Brentford winning five of their last six matches. Conte also managed Eriksen when the two were both at Inter Milan.
There have naturally been rumors swirling that Tottenham are interested in bringing Eriksen back to the club this summer when his short term contract at Brentford expires. Conte refused to be drawn into whether Spurs are going to approach Eriksen, but did praise him as a person and as a player, especially after his cardiac arrest at the EUROS last summer.
“First of all, I’m very happy to see him, to play football again because the images were terrible for everybody. We suffered a lot for him and his family. I had the opportunity to meet him when he had just arrived in Brentford. I spoke to him and his family. We’re talking about not only an important player but a great man. I wish him and his family the best for the present and the future. To meet him tomorrow for a game will be a pleasure.
“It’s incredible because not many times have happened what happened and to see him play football, football is life and it’s great for him and his family because they’ve come back to having a normal life.”
Tottenham kicks off against Brentford this Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. BST. The match is televised on NBC and Sky Sports.