After all the VAR-related chaos that controversially denied them a last-gasp win over Sporting CP in Group D last week, Spurs head to the Stade Velodrome tomorrow evening on matchday six needing at least a draw to reach the last 16 of Europe’s elite club competition.
But they look likely to remain without the services of forwards Kulusevski and Richarlison plus influential centre-back Romero, with that trio all absent from a final open training session conducted at Hotspur Way on Monday before the trip to southern France.
Richarlison had not been expected to make the fixture, having been sidelined with a calf injury suffered in the Premier League win over former club Everton on October 15 that had initially looked to put his World Cup chances with Brazil in doubt.
However, hopes that Kulusevski might be fit to feature against Marseille were raised after the Swedish international was seen being put through his paces with a vigorous fitness routine ahead of Saturday’s thrilling 3-2 win over Bournemouth, despite not being in the matchday squad at the Vitality Stadium.
Kulusevski has not played since the 6-2 thrashing of Leicester on September 17 after sustaining a setback in his recovery from a hamstring injury. The injuries to both the ex-Juventus star and Richarlison have forced Conte to often switch from 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2 formation with Harry Kane and Heung-min Son as a partnership up front.
Meanwhile, Romero started and played 90 minutes against Sporting but Conte strongly hinted that he would be rested at Bournemouth, having initially missed the previous weekend’s top-flight defeat by Newcastle due to muscle fatigue.
His absence against Marseille would come as a surprise, with Clement Lenglet presumably set to deputise in a back three along with Eric Dier and Ben Davies, with the former having also started on the bench at Bournemouth. Davinson Sanchez - who started alongside Lenglet and Davies on the south coast - is another potential option.
Spurs will be without Conte on the touchline against Marseille, with their fiery boss banned from the dugout and dressing room after his red card that followed Kane’s disallowed winner against Sporting.
Under Uefa rules he is not now obligated to conduct pre-match media duties as usual, with Monday’s press conference to be conducted by assistant manager Cristian Stellini, along with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Stellini is sure to provide a new update on Kulusevski, Romero and Richarlison then.