Antonio Conte reveals he took ‘big risk’ on fitness of Tottenham duo against Sporting

Jason Soutar
Tottenham boss Antonio Conte looks frustrated

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte has admitted he took a “big risk” playing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Cristian Romero against Sporting on Wednesday.

Conte’s side drew 1-1 at home to the Portuguese side to leave their Champions League fate hanging in the balance.

A point at Marseille next week will be enough to send the Premier League outfit through to the knockout stage.

Hojbjerg missed Sunday’s defeat against Newcastle United but played against Sporting.

Argentine centre-half Romero also missed the home loss to Eddie Howe’s men, and Conte has revealed he took a risk playing both on Wednesday evening.

“We have taken a big, big risk for this decision,” he explained. “Especially for Romero. Because he was really tired and we risked him a lot.

“But you know for this time of game you have to take risks and he can gave us the availability to play.”

Spurs face newly promoted Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday and Conte has admitted he will have to “manage” the pair “very well”.

“Now we have to manage him very well because he played and finished the game with great will and desire,” he added.

“I had to thank him and Pierre. I think Cuti [Romero] needed to recover better but Pierre is ok 100 per cent.

“Cuti is ok but we have another important game on Tuesday and for this reason we try to make the best decision for him.”

Are Spurs fans falling out of love with serial winner and gloom merchant Antonio Conte?

Spurs started the season very well but have lost their last two Premier League matches.

Conte thinks his side are pretty “tired” from playing in Europe.

“I think for sure every team playing in Europe is a bit tired, especially Premier League teams that play both and play massive games,” he said.

“For this reason have to pay great attention to rotation and play strong team.”

Next Wednesday will mark exactly one year in the job for Conte, and the former Chelsea boss says he is “enjoying” his Spurs “adventure”.

“I always say that I am enjoying my time in Tottenham and in one year we had a great path together, with club, players, fans and you [media].

“I think I am enjoying every single moment in my adventure in Tottenham.

“For sure I discover a modern club, a club with fantastic training ground and amazing stadium.

“The passion of the fans, at the same time the demands of our fans. The demand is very high. I continue to enjoy every day.”

Conte was sent off at the end of the match against Sporting after Harry Kane had a 95th-minute goal controversially disallowed.

He will not be on the touchline against Marseille as a result and was highly critical of VAR after the draw.

“What I thought Wednesday and I said what I said. It was the same, I didn’t change my mind,” he said.

Bryan Gil was believed to be surplus to requirements in the summer transfer window after spending the second half of last season on loan at Valencia.

The 21-year-old is yet to play a single minute in the Premier League this term but has come off the bench in Spurs’ last three European matches.

“I believe in Gil otherwise I don’t risk a player in the Champions League,” Conte explained.

“I try to find the right moment for when he can be useful for the situation… I have seen good improvement.

“I am sure about Gil’s future because we are talking about a player who sees football.

“If I have to compare Gil with someone, maybe I can see him like Bernardo Silva at City.

“For me in this moment physically he is not strong but we are talking about this type of player.”

Conte confirmed that forwards Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski will not be fit to face Bournemouth.

READ NOW: Wales stars dominate XI of Championship players heading to the World Cup