Antonio Conte believes true quality of Tottenham squad will be revealed once Champions League starts

·3-min read
Antonio Conte believes true quality of Tottenham squad will be revealed once Champions League starts

Antonio Conte has said he will only understand the depth and quality of Tottenham’s squad when the mid-week fixtures begin next week.

Spurs visit Nottingham Forest on Sunday, the start of a run of seven games in 21 days before the September international break.

With all six Champions League group matches squeezed into the schedule before the World Cup begins in mid-November, Spurs will play every midweek from now until the tournament, starting with Wednesday’s visit to rivals West Ham.

Conte’s side tended to struggle when playing three games a week last season but they significantly boosted the squad with six new signings in the summer.

“Today I was talking with Fabio Paratici about the difficulty [of the schedule],” the head coach said. “To play one game every six or seven days is one thing.

“To play many games every three days is totally different. But this is the period where you understand which team and squad are good to be competitive.

“In many situations, to play every three days, for injuries, because players start to be tired and you have to make rotations, it’s the right moment to understand if your squad has the right depth and quality. But this is the same for every club.”

Spurs have taken seven points from the first three matches, beating Southampton and Wolves at home and drawing at Chelsea, but they were second best for long periods at Stamford Bridge and in last weekend’s win over Bruno Lage’s side.

Conte, though, dismissed concerns about his side’s performances, saying it was unrealistic to expect them to win by two or three goals in every game.

“Honestly I think the performances were good in my opinion,” he said. “If the media or somebody thinks every game we go to win 2-0 or 3-0, you’re in the wrong way. Because we have to fight in every game.

“Do you think it will be easy against Nottingham Forest on Sunday? I don’t think so.

“We know our strengths and weaknesses. We are trying to improve these aspects but I repeat: we leave the presumption to others, to tell what they want to say.

“We have to continue to work. Now we have seven points more than last season. With these three teams we lost. This is the truth. If someone tries to see negative aspects, OK it’s good. We’re working to improve.”

Antonio Conte is confident Heung-min Son will be soon back on the scoresheet (AFP via Getty Images)
Antonio Conte is confident Heung-min Son will be soon back on the scoresheet (AFP via Getty Images)

Conte also played down concerns over Heung-min Son’s form, saying he is happy with the Korean’s performances despite last season’s Golden Boot winner failing to score in his first three matches.

“We’re talking about a really really important player for me and for the club. For sure, I think Sonny in the last 3 games had chances to score but there’s a moment where you’re a bit lucky or unlucky,” Conte said.

“I think no problem with Sonny’s performance, his attitude and commitment is always up very high. I’m happy with his performance and I don’t see any problems with him. For sure, when you’re a striker you like to score and when you score and win you’re happy.

“But at the same time we always have to put the club winning before the interests of ever single player. But it’s not a problem.

“He’s an important player, last season he scored 23 goals. No problem. No. I’m sure when he goes to score he will gain the right confidence.”

Spurs will be without injured pair Cristian Romero and Oliver Skipp at the City Ground, while Lucas Moura and Bryan Gil are doubts after sitting out training on Friday.