LONDON (Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur head coach Antonio Conte described the past week as terrible as the club battled a COVID-19 outbreak that shut the training HQ and forced the postponement of two games.
Conte said 16 players, including young players, trained on Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s Premier League trip to Leicester City which is scheduled to go ahead.
Eight first team players and five of the club’s coaching staff had tested positive, forcing the postponement of last week’s Europa Conference League group stage match against Rennes and the Premier League game on Sunday at Brighton & Hove Albion.
Tottenham’s training ground has now re-opened to the first team, but Conte said it has been a difficult period.
“Last week was terrible because the government decides, in the right way, to close the training ground and stop our training session,” the Italian told reporters.
“We had Thursday, Friday and Saturday without any sessions. Sunday we started again to work with not many players, because we also had problems with U23s.
“The situation has not changed so much. Players are back in training and other players are continuing to be selected. Those players who are back in training they need time to find the right physical condition.”
Conte said some players were still unavailable for the trip to Leicester, while others are back but would not be able to play the whole match.
“As I said before, players are back in training and today two players are back in training for the first time. Yesterday another player, but as you know well, they need to be fit to play,” he told reporters.
“Tomorrow I’ll put these players on the bench for 15-20 minutes at the end. They have in their legs 20 or 25 minutes.”
He said that those players who have tested positive for COVID-19 would have to be carefully managed.
“This is the big problem that we must be good to face in the future,” he said. “After 10 days you have players available but then you have to pay attention to the way to train, whether the body is ready to work in a good way.
“You have to pay attention, moderate the training to avoid injuries. This is the big problem, not only for Tottenham but for other clubs with COVID-hit players.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)