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Antonio Conte not concerned Spurs players will be distracted by World Cup

Antonio Conte has no concerns any of his Tottenham stars will be distracted by the winter World Cup (Peter Byrne/PA)
Antonio Conte has no concerns any of his Tottenham stars will be distracted by the winter World Cup (Peter Byrne/PA)

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte is not worried about the desire of his players or the possibility of them being distracted during the first half of the season with the World Cup only a matter of months away.

Spurs begin their Premier League campaign on Saturday at home to Southampton, but a break will occur during November and December with international football set to take centre stage.

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar was moved from its traditional summer slot due to the scorching heat of the country and will now take place in winter, but the former Italy boss has no concerns it will impact his squad.

Asked if players could save themselves due to fears of an injury, Conte insisted: “Honestly, I don’t care about it.

“I was a player. When you go to play a game and you want to win, you don’t think if you could be injured or you risk an injury and don’t play in the World Cup.

“Honestly, the players are really focused to go step by step and to play game by game. For us, I repeat, we have three important trophies in England and then to play an important competition in the Champions League.

“I know my players, their desire and their will, and also what we did to reach this achievement. Honestly, I’m not worried about this situation.”

Conte admitted this season will pose an unknown for all clubs and managers and believes it has resulted in increased transfer activity this summer by top-flight teams.

The Premier League will stop after the weekend of November 12 and not resume until Boxing Day, only a week after the World Cup final.

“The problems are for all the teams. The same problems for Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, (Man) United, for us, Arsenal, West Ham and Nottingham Forest, the last team to go Premier League,” the 53-year-old added.

“It will be the first time to face this situation that interrupts the league and to lose players for one month and a half, and then to restart the competition with the players where you don’t know in the way they’ll come back after the World Cup.

“For this reason, I think it’ll be very important to have a strong squad, (to increase) the number of the players.

“I think every club has to give the coach the opportunity to have an important number of players in the squad because, for injuries, fatigue, a lot of situations, it will be very difficult for every team and club this season.”

While Conte does not believe any of his squad will be bothered by the fear of injury during the first few months of the campaign, he does concede certain players will be eager for regular minutes.

Sergio Reguilon, Harry Winks, Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso are in that boat and Spurs remain in discussions over their futures after the foursome stayed in England while the rest of the first team went on tour to South Korea in July.

On their situation, Conte admitted: “There’s the World Cup and for this season many players want to play regularly.

“And then for this reason I think that sometimes it’s better for the player and club to find the right solution for both because to keep players unhappy is not good and I cannot ensure they’ll play regularly here in Tottenham.”