Antonio Conte eager for Tottenham players to be vaccinated but insists ‘this matter is a personal matter’

·4-min read
 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte has insisted he cannot "force" his players to be vaccinated against Covid-19 but says he would like them to follow him in getting jabbed.

The Spurs squad is understood to have a vaccination rate of over 85 percent – among the highest in the Premier League.

The issue is back in the spotlight as Covid rips through the top flight, with nine matches so far postponed due to outbreaks at several clubs, while the EFL this week revealed 25 percent of its players do not intent to get jabbed.

Clubs have been warned that unvaccinated players pose a particular risk to matches going ahead because, under new Government guidelines, individuals who are not jabbed must isolate if they are a close contact of someone who tests positive with the new Omicron variant.

“Every single person, every single player or member of staff at Tottenham or at other clubs, has to take the decision for himself,” Conte said ahead of Sunday’s visit of Liverpool.

“I took my decision, my family took their own decision. But I can’t force anyone to take a personal decision because I think that’s not right.

“It’s very difficult to get in the head of another person.

“I’ve been vaccinated and my family, my daughter and wife, they did the same. But for sure, this matter is a personal matter.

“I’d like that other people do the same but every single person has to take the best decision for himself.”

Tottenham’s last three matches have been postponed due to Covid outbreaks, with Thursday’s game at Leicester called-off after cases in the Foxes’ camp, but they are due to host the Reds in their first match in two weeks.

All 20 Premier League clubs are due to meet on Monday to discuss whether a short pause to the season or “circuit breaker” is necessary to allow outbreaks to come under control.

Conte insisted Spurs are “ready to play” against Liverpool and declined to say if he was in favour of pausing the season.

“We are ready to follow the rules and we are ready to play, and we’re ready to do what they [the Premier League] tell us to do,” he said.

“There are rules and we have to follow them and respect this. We’re ready to do this.

“For sure the situation is not simple, easy for all the teams. We’re prepared to play every game. It was the same against Leicester, the same against Rennes, the same in every game they decided to postpone.”

Conte is expected have the majority of the nine Spurs players who tested positive for Covid available on Sunday but he said he must be careful with managing their fitness.

“When the players are back from Covid, for sure you have to pay great attention. You can’t give them the same charge of work as other players,” the Italian said.

“If you want everything very soon, you risk injuries. They need time to be fit and before picking the starting XI you have to take into consideration all of this. For instance, to start with one player and after 60 or 70 minutes change him with one player who had Covid.

 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

"In this situation, it’s important to have patience and take the right risk. Every one of us would like to pick the best players, the best starting XI, but at the same time you need to understand they need a bit of time to have good form, to be fit and not risk an injury. Otherwise it would be a disaster.

“The morale was very, very down, also because we prepared and had training sessions to play [the last three] games,” he added.

“We prepared for all these games and in two weeks, three times we didn’t play. For sure, the morale is down when this type of situation happens.

“It’s also not easy to explain to the players and find the right energy when you’re prepared to play and the game is postponed.

“Today to prepare for another game against Liverpool and you don’t know if you are able to play. It’s not simple.

“But we’re ready to play on Sunday, an important game against a really good, amazing team. With the difficultly we’re facing, we’re ready to play this game.”

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