Tottenham Hotspur head coach Antonio Conte has warned World Cup winner Cristian Romero that a “difficult period” lies ahead for him.
Romero enjoyed a superb tournament in Qatar as he helped Argentina win the World Cup for the third time.
He returned to training on Tuesday and he could play against Emiliano Martinez’s Aston Villa for Tottenham on New Year’s Day.
Conte said: “From what I saw in the last few days during the training session, I have seen him with great focus and with great desire to come back and play with us and to go with his mind into Tottenham’s situation.
“For sure I am really happy for him and for us it is important to have in our team two World Cup champions in Hugo (Lloris) and Cuti.
“But he has to know very well that now starts the more difficult period for him because the expectation is going to become high for him. For this reason, he has to work much more and continue to work, especially don’t lose the desire to improve himself.”
Romero endured a mixed first half of the season with a calf injury ruling him out of several key games for Spurs.
The 24-year-old last played for Tottenham in a 1-1 draw against Sporting Lisbon on October 26, which was the start of their poor run that has seen them concede the first goal in each of the last nine matches in all competitions.
“For sure it is strange,” Conte said of Spurs going behind on nine consecutive occasions.
“It is a strange situation to concede the first goal and go down nine times in a row. It is very strange. At the same time it is good our reaction and to try to level the result.
“Many times we do win the game but for sure we have to try from the start of the game to be really focused and go into the game quickly. We have to pay more attention defensively and not give our opponent the chance to score.
“We have spoke with the players and maybe when you have to play many games in a row and you don’t have the possibility to work on the tactical aspect and defensive aspect you can lose something but for sure our intention is to try and avoid going 1-0 down, 2-0 down and to start the game in the best way possible.”
Lloris will return in goal for Spurs, after being on the bench at Brentford, but Rodrigo Bentancur (hamstring) is out and has been sent for a scan. Lucas Moura (tendon) and Richarlison (hamstring) remain sidelined.
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