Antonio Conte held his first Tottenham Hotspur press conference since the aftermath of the Battle of the Bridge II: Handshake Let Me Look At You, and he took the time to clarify, at least a little, the status of Cristian Romero.
News came out yesterday via Alasdair Gold and others that the Tottenham Hotspur central defender was set to miss 3-4 weeks of match time with a muscle injury. Reports out of the Argentina media seemed to contradict the timeline, with some going as far as to suggest that it was just “a knock” and not nearly as serious as what was being initially reported.
Conte’s comments on Cuti seemed to downplay the severity of the initial reports as well, with Spurs’ boss ruling him out of this weekend’s Wolves match, but hinting that it’s more of a precautionary thing than a serious injury.
‘Cristian [Romero] had a little problem during the game against Chelsea in the final part of the game, but it’s a little problem. After the game he started to feel a bit of pain in his adductor. We checked him, and honestly the player wanted to give his availability but in this type of situation especially as we have a lot of games to play, it would be stupid to take a risk. For this reason for the game against Wolverhampton he’s not available.”
That does seem to put paid to some of the breathless rumors circulating on social media that attempted to link his injury to Marc Cucarella stepping on him during the match. It might still be true, but it doesn’t look like anyone’s going to conflate those events at the moment.
Conte also gave some positive injury news — Oliver Skipp is close to a return from his own injury. Conte said Skipp is likely to return to on-pitch running work after sustaining an injury to his foot during training.
“The other player not available for Wolverhampton is [Oliver] Skipp but good news about him because today or tomorrow he will run again. This is really good news. I hope this player to be a bit lucky because since January he started to have a problem. But I think hopefully he will be ready quickly. We need his performance, he’s a really good guy, and for sure he’s suffering a lot to stay outside, but I think for the period where we have to play a lot of games he will be available, which is really good news for us.”
The other person we’re still not sure if they’ll be available for Wolves... is Antonio Conte himself. Conte and his Chelsea counterpart Thomas Tuchel both received red cards after the final whistle of the 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge last weekend, and both were also charged by the FA with disorderly conduct. At the moment, it looks as though Conte will serve a touchline ban at Molineux and that the team will be led by Ryan Mason on Saturday morning, but Conte expressed some hope that he’d still be able to stalk the sidelines this weekend.
“I see that the FA made us, both coaches, more soft charge, no? And we have to accept. We have to accept and have respect for every decision. But I think sometimes this type of situation can happen. It’s not the first time, it won’t be the last time that two coaches are not in the right way or do not agree. But the most important thing is we have to move on, to have respect for each other. And for me, the situation finishes there.
“I hope [I will be able to manage this weekend]. I think that it’s right, it’s right to stay in my place. Then I repeat for sure after this type of situation you can learn a lot but at the same time I think that for many situations I was really good to keep calm and don’t have an excessive reaction in the situation.”
Conte opted to play both of Spurs’ first two Premier League matches with the same starting XI that he used last season, despite numerous additions this summer. That’s let to some fans wondering whether any of the new signings are considered starters. Conte pointed out that he’s still bringing the newcomers up to speed with his tactics, and that this work will pay dividends once Spurs start playing multiple games in a week.
“I’m happy because for sure the first target is this transfer market for the club and for me it was to improve the squad and especially after the qualification for the Champions League was to create a squad where the level is the same level and I have the possibility to pick 11 players but at the same time know that on the bench are players that if they come in they can change the situation, they can give the quality and the quality doesn’t drop after the substitutions. It’s very important and then you know very well for now we’re playing one game a week and I’m trying, especially at the start to play with the players that know me much better and know our idea of football much better.
“We are exploiting this time to bring players like Richy, Lenglet and Bissouma, Perisic and all the players we signed. The same also for Spence, to go into our idea of football. We are taking the right steps. We are ready for when we have games every three days to make rotations and it will be good for us.”
Tottenham kick off against Wolves in the Saturday early match — kick-off is 7:30 a.m. ET, 12:30 p.m. BST. The match will be televised on USA Network in the United States and BT Sport 1 in the UK.