Richarlison unlikely to play as central striker for Tottenham, hints Cristian Stellini

Richarlison unlikely to play as central striker for Tottenham, hints Cristian Stellini

Antonio Conte's assistant Cristian Stellini has played down the likelihood of Richarlison playing as a centre-forward for Tottenham, as he does for Brazil.

Ahead of tonight's FA Cup fifth-round tie at Bramall Lane, Richarlison (below) is still without a domestic goal for Spurs since joining for £60million from Everton last summer. He has helped them to wins over West Ham and Chelsea in the last two games, operating from the right of the front three.

Stellini has hinted that Harry Kane will not be rested tonight, so Richarlison could continue in a wide role, provided he is not rotated for Heung-min Son, Arnaut Danjuma or Lucas Moura.

Richarlison wears the No9 for his country and scored two of the goals of the World Cup as a centre-forward, but Stellini said: "He is playing well in the position he has played this season.

“We were happy when he played on the right and scored [twice] against Marseille [in the Champions League group stage], and when he played on the left, like the last game, we're also happy with him in this position. That's fine.

"In his national team, he plays as a striker, but we have Harry Kane, who moves a lot around the pitch, so Richarlison can also play like a striker while Harry is moving."

Although Kane, who was rested for the only time this season at Preston in the last round, is likely to feature tonight, Stellini has suggested there will be other changes for what is likely to be his final game in charge. Conte, who has been recuperating from emergency gallbladder surgery at home in Italy, is expected back in the dugout for Saturday's game at Wolves, although he may not immediately resume media duties.

Spurs have won all four matches under Stellini, but he has insisted to the players, and publicly, that he is merely a conduit for the head coach's message — and it is Conte who has been nominated by the Premier League for February's manager of the month award.


Stellini has been in constant contact with Conte and revealed the head coach has been responsible for the half-time message ahead of goals early in the second half against West Ham and Chelsea.

"We speak with Antonio on the phone straight after the referee's whistle at the end of the first half, and then we transfer our feeling and Antonio's decisions to the players in the dressing room," Stellini said.

Spurs's revival started before Conte's emergency procedure on February 1, with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Fulham, but the Stellini interregnum may go down as the most important period of their season, particularly if he can help them into the quarter-finals tonight.

The stand-in has said the players have been forced to take more responsibility in Conte's absence, and he urged them to do the same tonight, particularly given they were knocked out at this stage by Championship opposition last season.

"Last season, we were disappointed after the game at Middlesbrough," he said. "But now we are in a momentum, and the players have to take responsibility to follow this momentum. We have to progress, we have to try to win the game. Because it is an important competition that we take seriously."