Dejan Kulusevski fit to face Arsenal but Tottenham cautious over Rodrigo Bentancur and Richarlison

Dejan Kulusevski fit to face Arsenal but Tottenham cautious over Rodrigo Bentancur and Richarlison

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte says he expects Dejan Kulusevski to be fit for Sunday's north London derby against Arsenal and refused to rule out Rodrigo Bentancur and Richarlison.

Kulusevski missed the matches against Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Portsmouth with a muscle problem but returned to training earlier this week.

Conte was less optimistic on the chances of Bentancur (adductor) and Richarlison (hamstring) returning from injuries sustained at the World Cup, saying it could be a "risk" to play the pair against Arsenal - although he added that they would be further assessed on Saturday.

"For sure the [injury] situation is going to improve. Especially for Deki Kulusevski. He had a training session in the last few days with us and I think he's going to be ready to play," Conte said. "About Richy and Rodrigo, both situations are improving. I think in this moment Deki is much more ready to play and especially [because we] don't take risks.

"For us, it'll be very, very important to have patience because we lost these important players for long periods.

"To risk losing them for long period again is not good or positive. For this reason we'll see. We have another training session tomorrow [Saturday] to monitor the situations of Rodrigo and Richy."

Conte is also set be without Lucas Moura again, with the Brazilian struggling to train due to a long-term and niggling tendon issue.

Lucas is set to leave Spurs by the end of the season after the club decided against extending his contract by a year and Conte said he respected the club's decision but was frustrated at the 30-year-old's injury situation.

Richarlison hasn’t played since the World Cup. (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
Richarlison hasn’t played since the World Cup. (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

"For sure, this season is difficult for Lucas but also for us," Conte said. "Because honestly, in my mind when we planned the season Lucas was an important player for us. You see from the start of the season until now, Lucas played maybe one game, with pain in the Champions League against Marseille and not a whole game with us. First of all, the damage is for me and the team. Because Lucas is a good player.

"Also last season, he helped us to reach the Champions League. In my plan, he was in my squad but we don't have the possibility to use him because of the injuries. It was really difficult. Especially in this season it happened twice that Kulusevski and Richarlison were injured.

"And to face this situation wasn't easy and is not easy. Then if you ask me about the decision of the club [not to extend his contract], I respect the decision of the club."