Home News “It gives me hope”: Antonio Conte raves about Tottenham duo despite Champions...

“It gives me hope”: Antonio Conte raves about Tottenham duo despite Champions League defeat to AC Milan. 

MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 14: Antonio Conte, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur, speaks to the media in the post match press conference after their side's defeat in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 leg one match between AC Milan and Tottenham Hotspur at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on February 14, 2023 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte says the performances of Pape Matar Sarr and Oliver Skipp against AC Milan gives him hope for the rest of the season.

Conte on Sarr and Skipp
Oliver Skipp and Pape Matar Sarr have been labelled as the ‘future for Tottenham’ by Antonio Conte following the club’s defeat to AC Milan. (Photo: Getty Images)

Sarr and Skipp were handed their first starts in the Champions League with Rodrigo Bentancur and Yves Bissouma injured and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg suspended, and both produced standout displays despite defeat in Italy.

“I’m really happy about the performance from Skipp and Pape Matar Sarr,” Conte told reporters. “Honestly, to play this way in the Champions League and in the San Siro in this atmosphere, normally it’s difficult for important players.

“These type of performances makes me more relaxed for the future. We can finish the season with only three midfielders and I know that I can count on these players 100 per cent.”

Skipp hasn’t started in the Champions League this season prior to the Milan match. (Getty Images)
Skipp made his European debut against Milan on Tuesday night. (Getty Images)

Former Spurs midfielder Jermaine Jenas and Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand also singled out Skipp and Sarr for praise during their analysis of the match on BT Sport.

Jenas remarked: “Eyeballs were on them and they’d have known that. It’s not easy to avoid words in this era. In fairness to them both they stood tall

“They were the positives that came out of tonight in my opinion. I thought Sarr in particular, his passing, how aggressive he was.

“Skipp being his first Champions League experience as well and such a huge stage in the knockout phase.

“It was a big positive for Conte to take into those games and go I can rely on these two to do a job for me in midfield. It wasn’t an area of the pitch I looked at today and was like ‘we need to improve there

“At the top end of the pitch and defensively is where I was thinking it. Just things like big tackles, getting back, breaking up interceptions. I mentioned the passing ability of them both.”

Ferdinand meanwhile stated: “You want to come in as a young player into a settled team that have got a fair bit of confidence and the team are playing a way you could just slot into.

“At the moment they’re a team with a lot of holes. They will have heard the noise from the fans for the last few weeks, borderline even months.

To come into that is very difficult. Add to that the San Siro, and the Champions League, so these two have to come out of this with huge credit.

“This is a huge confidence builder for two young players to make their careers at this club.”

Skipp enjoyed a run in the Tottenham side when Conte first took charge back in November 2021, but the 22-year-old’s progress has been hampered by injuries over the past year. While Sarr has only emerged as a real option for Spurs over the past month, the 20-year-old has impressed every time he’s got an opportunity.

Last night was just the second time that the duo have started alongside each other, with the other game coming against Portsmouth in the FA Cup. They seemed completely unfazed by the occasion though and they now look likely to get plenty of game time throughout the rest of the season.

Spurs must now beat Milan back in north London in next month’s last-16 second leg, and Conte remains upbeat over his side’s chances.

He told BT Sport: “For qualification you have to play two games. It is the first game away and the atmosphere was fantastic. I know the San Siro and I know the difficulty to play with this atmosphere.

“In the second game we have to play at our stadium and our fans will create the atmosphere to help us overcome the Milan obstacle.”





Previous articleMikel Areta drops hint about Arsenal squad rotation ahead of Manchester City’s clash. 
Next articleTottenham issue Conte health update as manager remains in Italy.