Speaking in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday (via football.london), the 53-year-old confirmed that both Dejan Kulusevski and fellow forward Richarlison will still be unavailable for the meeting with Ruben Amorim’s side.
The former Inter Milan boss stated: “Richarlison and Kulusevski, they are out because they are recovering but still not ready.”
Summer signing Richarlison has been absent since injuring his calf in the win over former club Everton just over a week ago, while Kulusevski has been out of action since the end of September as a result of a thigh injury.
The north Londoners head into tonight’s clash knowing that a win would confirm their place in the knockout stages, although it is all certainly still up for grabs in Group D with just three points separating the Premier League outfit from bottom side Eintracht Frankfurt.
In need of a result after slipping to successive top-flight defeats in the past week, Conte would likely have been keen to welcome such attacking talents back into the fold, with his side having no doubt struggled of late amid the shortage of forward options.
The loss of Kulusevski, in particular, has proven a notable blow with the Sweden international having previously been a hugely integral asset for the Lilywhites since his January arrival from Juventus, scoring six times and providing 11 assists in just 29 games for the club in that time.
The 22-year-old has helped form what’s been described as the “best front three in the country” alongside Harry Kane and Heung-min Son, in the words of talkSPORT pundit Ally McCoist, with that trio having been vital in securing a top-four berth last season.
His absence has then been a clear setback for those in N17, with that blow heightened by the loss of the aforementioned Richarlison of late, with the Brazilian having also enjoyed a fine start to life in the capital after his recent £60m switch from Goodison Park.
The 25-year-old’s arrival had offered a further attacking option alongside the long-serving pairing of Kane and Son, although once again Conte and co are left far too reliant on that latter duo, particularly in the 3-5-2 system that has been deployed in recent games.
It remains to be seen what approach the serial-winning coach adopts later today, although the continued absence of Kulusevski and Richarlison is a headache the Italian would have seemingly been keen to avoid.