Tottenham coach Antonio Conte is unhappy to be playing so soon after the World Cup and he has hinted at his team selection for the game against Brentford.
The Premier League returns on Boxing Day even though it is only a week since Tottenham duo Hugo Lloris and Cristian Romero battled it out in the World Cup final.
Conte has confirmed that Lloris and Romero will not play on Monday and he has a decision to make over Ivan Perisic, Harry Kane and Eric Dier.
“It is a strange situation and honestly to play so quickly – only one week after the World Cup – I am not really happy,” he said.
“In one hand, you are happy because for my club, Tottenham, to have 12 players at the World Cup it means that we are in the right way to try to be competitive and to try in the future to win something.
“But it is normal that when you have so many players play a tournament like this, especially during the season, that now it is not easy because the physical condition is not at the top.
“It is impossible to give them a lot of rest and for sure with the players that didn’t play the World Cup and we work for four weeks, now they are in a great physical condition.
“We work a lot on the tactical aspect and physical aspect. Now they are at a level that is better than the players who finished the World Cup.
“For this reason, I think I have to make the best decision for the game against Brentford. On one side I have players who I worked with for four weeks really well and on the other side, I have players who worked at the World Cup and are not at the top at the moment.”
Romero is definitely out of Monday’s lunchtime kick-off and Lloris will start on the bench, Conte revealed on Friday.
Rodrigo Bentancur will also miss out due to suspension but has also been nursing a minor hamstring issue. The same injury will sideline Richarlison for a month and Lucas Moura’s problem with his tendon continues.
Conte said of Moura: “He is struggling a lot to find a solution.
“For sure it’s a difficult situation, because I have a good player in my squad, but he’s never available. It’s like you don’t have him.
“It’s a pity because we are talking about a good player, a good guy, but he is struggling a lot to solve this problem. I don’t know what in the future happens about him.”
The absence of Moura, who has only started twice this season, could force Spurs into action in the January transfer window, but Conte admitted with a tinge of resignation that the only signings he expected would be young players in line with the club’s policy.
“What do I want the club to do? I think it’s not right to say this,” he said.
“I can give advice to my club, the way to try to improve the team and to improve the quality in the squad, especially because after five months the situation has changed from the start of the season.
“If there is the opportunity to strengthen the squad, we will do something. You know which is our policy, you know very well which is our policy.
“We will try to follow this policy and to improve the team. If there is the possibility to strengthen the squad, we will do it.
“Otherwise, we will continue with these players and I am happy with them.”
Pressed on Tottenham’s “policy”, he added: “About the signing, signing players and about young players, about players with not big salaries and this.
“We have to sign players that can stay in our vision, in the vision of the club.”