Cristian Stellini has revealed that Antonio Conte has been watching Tottenham’s recorded training sessions over the last week and that the Spurs head coach will give his input on the starting eleven against Manchester City.
Conte underwent surgery to remove his gallbladder in Italy earlier this week after being diagnosed with cholecystitis.
Reports have indicated that the Italian could be back on the touchline for the Premier League game against Leicester City on February 11 or the Champions League clash away to AC Milan on February 14 (Corriere Dello Sport).
There were some suggestions that the 53-year-old could be in the stands for Tottenham’s clash against City (Evening Standard) but that may now be doubtful, according to the Daily Mail.
Stellini revealed that even though Conte has not been present in person this week, he is still very much involved in the build-up to Sunday’s clash.
The Tottenham assistant head coach told Football.London: “We will [pick the team] together, because Antonio is not here to feel the training and everything so I will explain it to him and we will decide it together.
“No, I don’t think [he will need looking after]. When Antonio comes back, he will do what he normally does. It is important at the moment to recover and to come back when he is ready to do 100 per cent his job.”
On whether Conte has been watching the training sessions, he said: “Not during the training, he can watch the training after. We record the training so he can watch the training and analyse the training but only after.”
Stellini remarked that he hopes to use the special relationship he has built with the Spurs squad to inspire a performance out of the players on Sunday.
When asked what type of coach he is, the 48-year-old responded: “I am an assistant and I have a special relationship with the players because I am an assistant. So I can use that special relationship with them to force them to give their best.
“This is the kind of coach I can be for the next week and the next game. I cannot change myself because I am in charge. I am the same person who will try to push the players to give their best, but it is important to be the same person.”
Stellini did take charge of Tottenham’s Champions League clash against Marseille earlier this season after Conte was suspended for the game, and he admitted that he had plenty of help from Ryan Mason and Harry Kane in the build-up to the game.
When asked about his experience of the Marseille clash, the Italian responded: “It was a great experience and we want to live the same experience. I was not alone in that moment. I had Ryan Mason next to me and I have Ryan also with me now.
“He’s very important for the team, very important for me and he’s very important for the club so I’m not alone. I have all the staff with me. I remember after that game that Harry [Kane] spoke about how important the staff were and that some players felt more responsibility to speak among the team.”
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I suspect that Conte will talk to the players on video call ahead of the game even if he is unable to make it to the stadium on Sunday. There is no doubt that not having the Italian on the touchline is going to be a blow, with the players being used to the 53-year-old bellowing instructions through the game.
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