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Tottenham duo to start against AC Milan as Conte makes concerning admission about Tottenham. 

ENFIELD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 13: Antonio Conte, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur talks to the media during a press conference ahead of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 match against AC Milan at Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre on February 13, 2023 in Enfield, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Tottenham manage Antonio Conte has dimmised the idea that Eric Dier could step into midfield, where he was a success under Mauricio Pochettino, talking up instead the claims of Skipp (22) and Sarr (20). 

With Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg suspended for the first leg at the San Siro, Conte has just two available midfielders in Oliver Skipp, 22, and 20-year-old Pape Matar Sarr but Conte said he had not had time to experiment.

“We did not have the time to take into consideration this option [of Dier in midfield],” Conte said. “Rodrigo had an injury two days ago and the time was so short to prepare this game that I did not think of another solution.

Bentancur’s and Bissouma’s injuries and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s suspension mean Conte is bereft of midfielders at the San Siro. (Getty Images)

“We have the solution in our house, with the two young players, Skippy and Pape Sarr. They are really young and we have to help them to overcome the emotion, and then we trust them.”

However, Antonio Conte revealed a concerning claims that his inconsistent Tottenham players are struggling to cope with the pressure of playing every week.

Antonio Conte suggests some Tottenham players collapse under pressure. (Getty Images)

Conte watched his side beat champions Manchester City and then follow it up by being thrashed 4-1 at Leicester at the weekend, when a spot in the Premier League top four was theirs for the taking.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg against AC Milan, the head coach admitted his side were lacking “stability” and said part of the problem was his squad’s tendency “to collapse” in some situations.

“If you want to win or achieve some targets and have a good position in the Champions League or in England in the Premier League you have to be stable,” the Italian, who had his gallbladder removed a fortnight ago, said.

“And this stability is lacking this year. I always talk about it with my players. It is very difficult to keep concentration, it is very difficult to stay focused all of the time.”

“It is not an easy task being so focused,” said Conte. “We are working on that, playing under pressure all of the time is good for some players and bad for others.

“Sometimes players feel motivated, other times feel so much under pressure that they can’t perform.

Spurs resume their Champions League campaign with a last-16 first-leg tie at AC Milan on Tuesday. (Getty Images)

He added: “I think that the pressure is different between Italy and England. In Italy you speak about football from Monday and you finish on Sunday. You speak only football and then you have a lot of TV that speaks football and puting a lot of pressure”

“In England I think that there is an atmosphere that brings to enjoy football without a lot of pressure, because football is a sport and in Italy sometimes football is not only a sport, it is a war between the teams and the fans.”

Spurs have had a tough run of injuries this season with Dejan Kulusevski, Richarlison and Lucas Moura among those who have suffered and in the last few days skipper Hugo Lloris has been ruled out for up to two months, Yves Bissouma has had ankle surgery and Rodrigo Bentancur faces a long stint out with an ACL injury, and Conte says this has played a part in his side’s turbulent season.

“There are also external factors like injuries for very important players for us,” he said. “And those injuries influence the team, influence the growing evolution of the league.”

“You can be prepared for everything, you can be a tactical man, good strategies, good line-ups, you can have high-quality players but then if those high-quality players get injured then you need to change things.”

“Every manager wishes to have the best players available. Luck has abandoned us.”

Conte was back in the dugout for the hammering at the King Power Stadium and says it is important to be back with the team in difficult situations.

“For sure, it was really difficult to stay far from the team,” he added. “Because you have a sense of responsibility that you want to stay every moment with your players, to breathe the environment in every situation.

But this problem happened and now I’m feeling much better than before.

“I’m not still 100 per cent but I think I’m recovering well, it’s very important for me to stay with the team, work with them and try to stay together in a difficult moment for us.”



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