Stellini refuses to rule out Conte returning for Tottenham versus Man City – ‘everything is possible’

Date published: Friday 3rd February 2023 3:28 - News Desk

Spurs assistant Cristian Stellini and head coach Antonio Conte before a match

Tottenham assistant Cristian Stellini has not ruled out Antonio Conte being in the dugout for their game against Manchester City this weekend.

Conte is still in Italy after he underwent surgery to remove his gallbladder on Wednesday.

The 53-year-old returned home following Tottenham’s FA Cup win over Preston. He was subsequently taken ill with “severe abdominal pain” that was later diagnosed as cholecystitis.

While the Spurs boss revealed on Instagram that his surgery had “gone well” and he was “feeling much better”, it had been expected he would not be at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday – but his long-serving assistant did not rule out the possibility of the Italian being on the touchline.

Stellini said: “We don’t know yet when Antonio is coming back. Everything is possible.

“The surgery was good, he is recovering well. At the moment he is at home. We have two days for the game and everything can happen.

“Last week he had a problem that we thought was illness, not a problem like this. When he discovered this, it was a surprise and he was so sad about this, but we have to keep going and work.

“We had the time to speak to Antonio before the surgery about how we prepare and the way to prepare for the next game. Then we have lost him for 12 hours, the time (before and after) for him to have the surgery. The surgery was not difficult and it is important he recovers well. This is the most important thing.

“Antonio, and probably the doctors that did the surgery for him, they have to decide, but we have 48 hours, we have two days to decide. We have time.”

It has been Stellini leading the training sessions this week, which is a new experience, but he has stood in for his boss previously this season.

Conte was banned for Spurs’ vital Champions League tie at Marseille and his assistant was the key figure on the touchline.

Stellini added: “After the surgery it is normal you don’t have the energy to speak about (the game), but immediately when he recover well from the surgery, he call me back and he start to talk about training and the next game.

“I was a player with Antonio so I know very well his mentality and what he wants from the team.

“Everyone in the staff is ready to transfer to the players the idea of Antonio. For me it is easier maybe than some new assistants because I know him very well but Antonio sent me a message and he trusts in us completely.

“One hundred per cent I trust in the staff and we are focused more than normal because we have to do what Antonio normally does but Antonio is happy about our job.”

Spurs will have a fully fit squad after Harry Kane recovered from the illness that forced him to be an unused substitute in last weekend’s FA Cup win at Preston.

Richarlison (adductor) and Lucas Moura (tendon) have also returned to training this week.

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