Tottenham Hotspur have been dealt a huge injury blow regarding winger Dejan Kulusevski.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference (via BBC Sport), Antonio Conte revealed that, despite the Italian previously hinting the winger was nearing a return to full fitness, the 22-year-old could now be ruled out of action until after the Qatar World Cup – having suffered an apparent setback in his recovery from a thigh injury.
Regarding the current condition of the Sweden international, the 53-year-old said: “I think we have to wait a bit of time to see him with us. Yeah [I am worried] because his recovery was going well and then one day the situation worsened.
“Then when this type of situation happens, you have to restart. You need time, but we have the medical department to face injury situations and they have to solve the situation in a short period because you know if you are good to solve the situation in a short period, it means points in the table.”
Considering just how integral a part of the Tottenham side Kulusevski has become following his January move to north London, the fact that the forward could be ruled out of action until the turn of the year is undoubtedly terrible news for Conte and his side.
Indeed, over his 18 Premier League fixtures in his debut campaign with Spurs, the £70m-rated winger was in astonishing form, scoring five goals, providing eight assists and creating six big chances for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 1.4 shots, making 1.4 key passes and completing 1.4 dribbles per game.
These returns saw the 22-year-old average a simply sensational SofaScore match rating of 7.21, not only ranking him as Conte’s fourth-best performer in the league but also as the 25th-best player in the top flight of English football as a whole last term.
The £110k-per-week flanker has once again caught the eye over his seven Premier League appearances in 2022/23, having already scored one goal, registered three assists and created two big chances, with these returns seeing the attacker average an impressive SofaScore match rating of 6.91 – ranking him as Spurs’ 11th-best performer in the division.
Furthermore, with Richarlison also currently sidelined as a result of injury, as well as Lucas Moura not being fully match-fit after his recovery from a tendon injury, Kulusevski’s absence leaves Conte with no natural option to deploy alongside Harry Kane and Son Heung-min in his three-man attack – something that proved incredibly costly in the loss to Manchester United last time out.
As such, it is clear to see that being without the Swede for a lengthy period will come as a huge blow to Spurs’ chances of going on to secure a top-four finish this season – not to mention picking up all three points against an impressive Newcastle United side at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday afternoon.