Tottenham boss Antonio Conte to miss Wolves clash but will return for AC Milan decider


Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte is set to return to work this weekend, but won’t take charge of the team for Saturday’s trip to Wolves.

Conte is expected to be back in London on Saturday night and should return to Hotspur Way on Sunday before being in the dugout for Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 decider at home to AC Milan, with his side trailing 1-0 from the first leg.

"I said he would come back this week and straight after the match against Wolves he will be in London and in charge again from Sunday," his assistant Cristian Stellini said on Friday. "The doctors decide this."

Conte has been recuperating at home in Turin on and off since emergency gallbladder surgery on February 1.

Stellini took charge of the 1-0 win over Manchester City four days later, but Conte returned to work just a week after his operation, overseeing the defeats to Leicester and Milan. He was then advised to rest by his surgeon, following a routine check-up after the game at the San Siro on Valentine’s Day.

“I underestimated the procedure, which wasn’t a routine operation, but a sudden and serious emergency,” he said at the time. “My body has suffered my impatience, and now I am forced to stop until my entire recovery.”

Stellini, with support from first-team coach Ryan Mason, was back in the dugout for the wins over West Ham and Chelsea in the League, and Wednesday’s FA Cup fifth-round exit at Sheffield United.

Antonio Conte is not expected to take charge of Tottenham at Molineux on Saturday (REUTERS)
Antonio Conte is not expected to take charge of Tottenham at Molineux on Saturday (REUTERS)

Conte has been liaising with Stellini and the rest of the coaching staff several times a day, and maintained a leading say on team selection, tactics and even in-game decisions. Conte, rather than Stellini, was nominated by the Premier League for February’s manager of the month award.

The Italian admitted he defied doctor's orders to return to work initially but since returning to Turin he has liaised daily with the club's medical staff, who have helped to determine his return date in consultation with his surgeon.

After the midweek Cup defeat, Stellini backed his players to respond against Wolves.

“The last two or three performances were really high intensity, but when you have this type of performance [the Cup], I hope it will be easy to explain to the players what we need to do,” he said. “Normally, our team react after a game like this. It’s not the first time it happened and we have to react immediately. Saturday we have an important game and Wednesday another one.”

Stellini and Conte made six changes for the reverse at Bramall Lane and are set to recall Harry Kane, Cristian Romero, Dejan Kulusevski and Oliver Skipp to the starting lineup at Molineux. Emerson Royal is expected to be fit, despite missing the Cup defeat with a minor knee issue. Spurs remain without long-term absentees Rodrigo Bentancur, Hugo Lloris, Yves Bissouma and Ryan Sessegnon.

Four wins from five League games has opened up a four-point gap to Newcastle, who have two games in hand and visit Manchester City on Saturday.