After integrating himself into Antonio Conte’s plans at the back end of last season, journalist Paul Brown believes Matt Doherty may be a little shocked that he is yet to start a game this campaign.
Doherty was considered by many to be surplus to requirements at Spurs after failing to make an impact since his move from Wolves in 2020. That status appeared to be confirmed when Antonio Conte overlooked the Irishman in the early days of his tenure at Tottenham.
However, a change in fortunes allowed Doherty to become a mainstay in Conte’s starting line-up towards the end of last season.
With just one assist to his name going into the final game of February 2022, Doherty ended up with two goals and four assists by the end of the season (Transfermarkt). This impressive run of form was cut short by a medial collateral ligament tear in April.
Despite recovering from that injury, Doherty is yet to start a game this campaign. He has played just eight minutes of football across two fixtures in the Premier League and Champions League, coming off the bench in both (Transfermarkt).
He said: “It took Doherty quite a long while to convince Conte and, by the end of the season, he was holding him up as an example of someone who had forced their way back into the team and come back from adversity.
“So, to see him back out on the sidelines is a bit of a surprise and I’m sure he’s quite shocked by it too.”
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Matt Doherty was arguably the biggest benefactor of Antonio Conte’s regime last season, as a player who had well and truly begun to adapt to the demands of a wing-back in the Italian’s system. It’s always a shame to see a good run of form like that ended by injury.
The reason Doherty hasn’t featured as much so far this season is most probably down to Conte’s emphasis on the importance of fitness.
While Doherty may be ready for action again, he is likely to be behind the likes of Emerson Royal due to how much more training the Brazilian has managed over the last few months.
In time, we’re sure Doherty will make his way back into the starting line-up, but he will need to be patient.
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