Antonio Conte has a massive decision to make as Tottenham Hotspur return to Premier League action this weekend…
Spurs are likely to be without star centre-back Cristian Romero after he picked up a suspected hamstring problem during Argentina’s 0-0 draw with Brazil on Tuesday evening.
The Italian will be sweating on his fitness heading into kickoff but as transfer expert Fabrizio Romano tweeted, it looks like “bad news for Tottenham”, whilst Dr Rajpal Brar, who specialises in physical therapy, believes he could be out for any time between one to six or more weeks, depending on the severity.
It seems hugely improbable that the 23-year-old colossus is involved in their clash against Leeds United on Sunday.
As Conte deploys a back-three, he is short on alternatives in the role.
One-time club-record signing Davinson Sanchez would be the obvious option as the most senior of those available, especially as he started four of their opening six games in the Premier League, keeping three clean sheets in the process.
However, he has often been dubbed a “liability” and it’s clear that something in Nuno Santo’s mind changed as he hasn’t started any of their last five league matches, and Conte has not started him in either of his two games in charge yet either.
Then there is the versatile Japhet Tanganga, who has largely featured at full-back rather than in the middle. The 22-year-old, just like Sanchez, is yet to play for the Italian, and he has a history of not trusting or breeding through youngsters.
It, therefore, leaves Joe Rodon, who can build a solid case for more game time in north London with a start against the Whites.
He has never let the Lilywhites down whenever trusted and he continues to make an impression on the international stage, and that can’t have gone unnoticed by Conte, especially after receiving the blow to Romero.
Despite rarely featuring for the Lilywhites in 2020/21, the 24-year-old was one of the more productive defensive options as he averaged a squad-high 2.6 interceptions per 90 minutes, as well as having the best passing accuracy (88.1%) of anyone besides midfield orchestrator Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, via WhoScored.
“You look at Rio Ferdinand and John Terry and there are elements of both in Rodon’s game,” once claimed Sky Sports pundit Andy Hinchcliffe.
Whilst the 6 foot 4 colossus has been described as a “pure” defender and a “real asset” by his former Swans boss Steve Cooper.
It’s time for Conte to turn to Rodon in his time of need this weekend. He’s struck up a good partnership alongside Ben Davies for his national side and for a temporary stop-gap alongside Eric Dier, this is probably the best solution.
AND in other news, Conte may already be repeating Nuno Santo’s fatal Spurs mistake…