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Spurs: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg can fill Oliver Skipp’s void

Tottenham Hotspur boss Antonio Conte has confirmed that he will be without midfielder Oliver Skipp for their Premier League opener against Southampton on Saturday afternoon.

“At the moment we only have one player who will definitely miss Southampton and that is Skipp,” he told reporters during his pre-game press conference at Hotspur Way, as relayed by attending reporter Alasdair Gold.

The reliable journalist described the Englishman’s injury as “freak” earlier in the week, so it could be a couple of weeks before we see him return to action, which is rather unfortunate for Conte, the player himself and the squad.

New summer signing Yves Bissouma is also a doubt for the fixture but the Italian claims that it is “nothing serious” by comparison.

With that in mind, he has plenty to ponder in terms of team selection as he will want Spurs to get off to the best possible start with three points at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Skipp adds a real steely edge to the Lilywhites’ engine room, having averaged 2.2 tackles and 0.8 interceptions per 90 in the Premier League last season, via WhoScored.

The England U21 international is hugely admired by Conte and after being revealed as one of his fittest two performers in pre-season, he would have surely been in line for a start against the Saints.

However, the baton may well be passed to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg as he has all the attributes required to fill such a big void.

If both are fit, who starts under Conte?





The tough-tackling Dane ranked third for minutes played in the top-flight for Spurs last season as he became a reliable and trustworthy choice for Conte, who was also without Skipp for large parts of the campaign.

In terms of defensive output, no other midfielder could match his numbers, having averaged 2.2 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per outing, via WhoScored.

The 26-year-old powerhouse also got forward to chip in with four goal contributions and 1.2 dribbles per game, too.

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Hojbjerg, who is valued at a whopping €70m (£58m) by CIES Football Observatory, does much more than deliver on the pitch as he is widely regarded as ‘a captain without the armband’, at least that’s what former manager Jose Mourinho once lauded him as.

Also dubbed a “monster” by ex-Denmark international Morten Bisgaard, it’s clear that the former St Mary’s skipper can come back to haunt his former club in Spurs’ time of need.

With Skipp absent and Bissouma a doubt, Conte must hand the reins to Hojbjerg this weekend.

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