'We have to show great respect for our fans,' says Tottenham's Conte
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Tottenham fans may finally get a proper chance to watch Djed Spence with Antonio Conte looking set to give the right-back his first start in the League Cup fixture against former club Nottingham Forest today. The Englishman has been restricted to just four minutes of competitive match action since his arrival from Middlesbrough in the summer despite widespread calls for him to be given an opportunity.
Spence arrived in a £13million deal from the Teesside club over the summer after he spent a hugely impressive season on loan with the Tricky Trees. There had been high hopes that he would come straight into the starting lineup given the Lilywhites struggles in the right-wing-back position. However, he has been behind Emerson Royal, Matt Doherty and Ivan Perisic in the pecking order.
The right-back has found his match action severely limited, seeing just four minutes of competitive match action since the start of the campaign. Royal has been Conte’s first choice in his place but the Brazilian has badly underperformed, leading to strong calls for the Spurs faithful for him to be dropped.
Now, Spence could receive his big opportunity in the League Cup fixture against Forest today with the Italian potentially willing to give him a start as he rotates his side. It would be a huge chance to impress the manager as he looks to make a play for a starting berth going forward.
The 22-year-old was a key player for Forest last season as they secured promotion to the top flight for the first time in over 20 years, making 42 appearances in the league as he earned a place in the Championship team of the year. As such, Tottenham fans have argued that he should be given more game time, particularly given the club’s struggles on the right flank.
However, Conte hit back against these demands earlier this year, suggesting the player is not yet ready for first-team action.
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“The fans have to be fans,” the Italian said ahead of the club’s Champions League fixture with Eintracht Frankfurt last month. “They can think anything but I see every day the training sessions. If they trust me, they trust me, but the choices are mine. If I don’t decide to pick a player, it’s because he’s maybe not ready.
“We are talking about a young player with a good prospect, but I repeat I try to pick the best team. Also Doherty last season played every game. Now I’m not seeing him in the right way to start the game. I’m not stupid, I don’t want to lose. I try to put the best team, to pick the best team. If they trust me it’s ok, if they don’t trust me then I’m the coach and I need to take the best decision for Tottenham.”
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