Matt Doherty has revealed that Antonio Conte is right in saying that he is still not at 100 per cent, and remarked that he expects to get game time at Tottenham once he is fully fit.
Many expected Doherty to be Conte’s first choice at right wing-back this season on the back of the form that he showed after breaking into the team in the second half of last season until his knee injury.
However, the Spurs head coach has given Emerson Royal the nod so far, with the former Wolves man yet to start a single match this campaign.
Conte has maintained that the 30-year-old is continuing to recover from the injury he sustained back in April (Football London), and the right-back has now stated that he understands why the Spurs boss has been reluctant to play him.
Doherty told The Irish Mirror: “I’m not frustrated. I understand where the manager is coming from, where he thought my fitness was and he was right at the end of the day.
“I know that he trusts me, I know that once I’m back again, he knows what I can do for him. Once he thinks I’m available, I’m sure he’ll give me more time.”
The Tottenham head coach said last week (talkSPORT) that he is hopeful Doherty will be in contention to start after the international break if he gets a couple of matches under his belt, and the Spurs man is hoping that his international boss Stephen Kenny obliges.
He said about Conte’s words: “That’s exactly what he said, he wants me to come away and try and get two games in.
“He said in his press conference that I would be available after the international break fully for selection.” Doherty added with a smile: “That’s the plan – if Stephen obeys him.”
Doherty also stated that he has been feeling a lot sharper in training over the last couple of weeks and cannot wait to get on the pitch.
He added: “I feel ready to start. We train really hard at club level and if you’re not starting games, you’re ready to start, even if you’re not coming off the bench.
“It probably took a little bit longer than expected. I was pretty much available all of pre-season but wasn’t moving that well. But in the last three or four weeks I’ve felt back to where I was in training.
“I’ve just been doing things more off the cuff and not having to do think about them, find my confidence in training. I’m kind of chomping at the bit. We train really hard at club level so I think fitness won’t be an issue going into the two games for me.”
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This is very encouraging to hear as Doherty’s return to full fitness will make us a lot stronger, particularly given Conte’s unwillingness to throw Djed Spence in at the deep end. Hopefully, the Republic of Ireland international gets a couple of 90 minutes under his belt for his country over the next few days.
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