‘I spoke with Deki’ – Antonio Conte claims he will rotate the team against Leicester

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Dejan Kulusevski
(Photo by Eddie Keogh/Getty Images)

Antonio Conte has said that he will rotate Tottenham’s starting eleven against Leicester City to add some freshness to the side following their efforts against Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday.

Questions have been raised about Conte’s selection over recent weeks, with the Italian leaving out Dejan Kulusevski from the starting lineup for the club’s last three clashes against Fulham, Marseille and Sporting Lisbon.

The decision seems particularly harsh on the Swede considering he has started the campaign in impressive form.

Conte admitted that leaving out Kulusevski was not an easy call to make and that even though he usually does not explain his decisions to players, he did have a chat with the 22-year-old regarding the decision.

The Italian told Football.London regarding his selection upfront: “This is the good problem when you are in a team that are trying to be competitive. We have just started our path to be competitive. We added one strong piece in our squad compared to last season because Richarlison is an important piece. You add this piece with Sonny, Harry and Deki, they did really well.

“For sure to drop Deki for three games in a row, honestly, for me, it was difficult. I don’t like to give explanations to my players because otherwise in every game I have to speak to one, to another one and another one. I think the most important thing is to have respect about the role.

“But at the same time, I spoke with Deki because after three times in a row that you go on the bench, I think that he deserved to feel that my trust, my confidence, was like always.”

Conte explained that his decision to leave out the former Juventus man was tactical as he wanted to play with three out-and-out strikers in Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Richarlison.

Elaborating on his decision, he said: “But it was only a tactical decision because I wanted a strong impact with the three strikers, Richy, Sonny and Harry. [Deki] is not a striker, he’s a number 10. Only for this reason.

“I’m pleased because I understood very well that we can play with Harry, Sonny and Richy. At the same time, Deki is an important player for me, for the team. He’s in an important moment now because he’s strong physically and is good.

“For sure the first problem is for him because when I go home and I start to think [about dropping him three times], it’s a good problem, but at the same time, it’s a difficult problem.

“It’s not easy to make a decision, but, and this is a clear message, in every decision I’m going to make, it’s always for the best of the team, for the welfare of the players, to keep the players in the best possible way, not to risk injury. At the same time, I don’t want to drop the quality of the team because, in the end, we have to try to win.”

The Spurs boss also confirmed that he will make changes to the starting eleven for the clash against the Foxes this afternoon.

He added: “Saturday we need energy. We need energy. We finished the game against Sporting with not a lot of energy and for this reason, I am a bit upset, because despite the big effort we did in the game, in the end, we lost the game.

“We lost a lot of energy and then we lost [the game]. Now I have another day to make the best decision. For sure I will make rotation on Saturday. We will see. I repeat. I try to make the best decision in every moment for the team, not for myself. I am not selfish. I have to think to everybody.

“I was a player. I know. I know that the player thinks of himself. I did this in the past. Now I am the opposite side. I have to think for everybody to try to make the best decision, but always in an honest way. Always. If I make mistake … only in an honest way.”

Spurs Web Opinion

The only changes I foresee are Kulusevski replacing Richarlison on the right, Lenglet coming back in for Davies and potentially Sessegnon starting over Perisic. Conte has not shown a willingness to rotate his big guns so far, and I do not expect that to change against Leicester.

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