Team news ahead of City – ‘important player’ Bentancur set to return
Tue 17 January 2023, 16:08|Tottenham Hotspur
Antonio Conte has confirmed that Rodrigo Bentancur is back in training and could feature against Manchester City on Thursday.
The influential central midfielder has missed all five of our games since the season’s resumption in December after picking up an injury on duty for Uruguay at the World Cup.
“Like I said after the game against Arsenal, we have Rodrigo Bentancur training with us – he is available and he could be available for the game against City,” Antonio told the media after training on Tuesday.
The Head Coach will now need to determine whether the 25-year-old is fit enough to come straight back into the starting line-up at the Etihad, or whether he can feature off the bench.
In Rodrigo’s absence, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has worked with three different central midfield partners in Yves Bissouma, Oliver Skipp and Pape Matar Sarr. Antonio was asked in his exclusive sit-down interview with SPURSPLAY after his press conference how pleased he was to have the former Juventus man back in the fold.
“We are talking about an important player for us,” he said. “We have seen the difference last season when Bentancur and Kulusevski came into our team. I think also with Pierre, they create a good couple of midfielders – he is an important player for us. This is good news and then we have another training session to make the best decision (on his involvement against City).”
Antonio's praise for Pape Matar Sarr
Antonio revealed after the north London derby that Rodrigo’s fellow midfielder Yves had been dealing with an ankle problem last week after pulling up in the warm-up against Portsmouth, but he confirmed on Tuesday that the former Brighton player is available for selection after featuring as a late substitute against the Gunners.
“Bissouma had a training session, he trained the whole session and I think that he has recovered in the last few days,” he said.
Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison both returned to action in the derby, but Lucas Moura remains out.
Kick-off at City is at 8pm UK time.