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Spurs: Conte must unleash Djed Spence vs Palace

Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to get back on track when they visit Crystal Palace in the Premier League this evening.

Antonio Conte’s side were stunned by Aston Villa on New Year’s Day as they were defeated 2-0 in what was another toothless attacking display and another disastrous defensive outing.

Calamity was on the menu as Hugo Lloris blundered the visitor’s opening goal in his first outing since the World Cup final. Harry Kane and Heung-min Son’s anonymous showing was the final course in what was a nightmare afternoon.

But for the Italian, it’s time to move on and focus on tonight’s encounter and having slipped to fifth in the standings, the team could do with a victory at Selhurst Park.

Other than the injured Richarlison and Rodrigo Bentancur, Conte will only be without Yves Bissouma, who is suspended after his fifth yellow card of the season.

Should Spence start vs Palace tonight?

YES!

YES!

NO!

NO!

However, it’s a change out wide that could boost their chances of getting a result. The right wing-back position has been a contentious one ever since the 53-year-old took the helm, with neither Emerson Royal nor Matt Doherty truly trusted. That much is clear amid links to Sporting CP star Pedro Porro and past reports suggesting as such.

Spurs did secure someone primed for the role during the summer but Conte is yet to truly unleash him and it would be a travesty to buy someone else without trying him out first.

Given the recent struggles, he could do a lot worse than trusting Djed Spence with his first league start since arriving in a £20m deal from Middlesbrough.

The 20-year-old dynamo has only been given a total of four minutes from the bench which really isn’t enough to make your mark on a game, let alone when trying to prove yourself to the manager.

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How well do you know Spurs manager Antonio Conte? Question 1. During his playing days, in which position did Conte typically operate?

Only a few months ago, it was Spence who shone for Spurs in their Carabao Cup exit to Nottingham Forest – his former loan club – yet still, Conte has gone back to Emerson and Doherty, with the latter starting on Sunday.

That performance led to former GOAL and Metro head of social Jay Jaffa to claim that “he’s ready” to start games. “Spence showed more in that 30-minute cameo than all of our wing-backs have done combined this season,” he also suggested.

Also lauded in the past as a “Rolls-Royce” by Arsenal legend Martin Keown, it could be time for Conte to finally unleash the England U21 international in a bid to solve both their defensive and attacking woes.

His tenacity to get up and down the pitch surely makes him an ideal starter for the Italian head coach. During his time at Forest last season, the wing-back provided seven goal contributions on top of an average of 1.5 tackles and 1.6 interceptions per league game, whilst he ranks inside the top 2% of his positional peers in Europe’s ‘next eight’ divisions for completed dribbles.

This ability could be a game-changer for Spurs and that’s why it’s time to give Spence way more minutes and opportunities. He must start against Palace tonight or it could be an all too familiar story come full-time.

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