Football

Tottenham’s Conte jokes he might have to play amid injuries

Tottenham’s Conte jokes he might have to play amid injuries
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Tottenham Hotspur boss Antonio Conte has joked he might be forced to play as his team face an injury crisis.

Conte told a news conference on Friday that Dejan Kulusevski may not feature for Conte’s side until after the World Cup after suffering a setback while recovering from a hamstring injury.

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Richarlison also remains sidelined due to a calf injury and Lucas Moura is a long-term absentee, which prompted Conte to suggest he might have to lace up his boots.

« We have in this moment [Harry] Kane and Son Heung-Min in good health, » Conte said before Tottenham’s game against Newcastle United on Sunday.

« Fingers crossed, I hope they continue to stay that way or I’ll have to think about putting my shoes on to play. »

Conte will have Emerson Royal available, however, after the full-back served his three-game suspension following his red card in the North London derby against Arsenal.

Kulusevski has been a key player for Spurs since joining from Juventus in January. He has missed their last six games after sustaining his hamstring problem while on international duty with Sweden.

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Conte said that Kulusevski was close to full fitness on Monday, but the Italian now fears he might only return after the Nov. 14-Dec. 25 breaks for the World Cup.

« His recovery was going well and then one day the situation worsened, » Conte added. « When this type of situation happens, you have to restart.

« I think we have to wait a bit of time to see him with us again. »

Tottenham are third in the table, level on 23 points with Manchester City and four behind Arsenal, and will hope to bounce back after Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat at Manchester United.

Newcastle are five points behind Spurs in sixth. Eddie Howe’s side are on a six-game unbeaten run and have only lost once this season.

« You have to consider Newcastle as a dangerous team for the first position, for the Champions League position, for the fight to win trophies, » Conte said.

« They have had the potential to go into the market and to become one of the best teams in England. »

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