Speaking in the pre-match press conference (via football.london), Cristian Stellini hinted that, despite making his first appearance since mid-September in the 2-1 loss to Liverpool on Sunday, Dejan Kulusevski may not be fit enough to feature at The City Ground this evening, with Tottenham’s head coach suggesting the 22-year-old needs to take it slowly in his recovery from injury.
Regarding the current condition of the Sweden international, the Italian said: “We lost Kulusevski from the last international break. So it’s a long time and we cannot say that Kulusevski can play 90 minutes because it’s a long, long time injury, so we have to be careful with this type of injury.”
Considering just how influential a part of Antonio Conte’s side Kulusevski is, should the forward not be fit to feature against Forest this evening, it would undoubtedly come as a huge blow to Spurs’ chances of sealing qualification for the next round of the Carabao Cup.
Indeed, prior to the Liverpool loss last weekend, Tottenham had won five, drawn two and lost none of the seven Premier League fixtures the £61.5m-rated talent had featured in, in addition to scoring an average of 2.3 goals and conceding one per game.
Meanwhile, Spurs won three, drew none and lost three of their six top-flight meetings without the services of the £110k-per-week attacker, as well as scoring an average of just 1.1 goals and shipping 1.5 per fixture.
Furthermore, despite featuring just eight times in the league this season, Kulusevski has still proven to be one of Conte’s better performers, scoring one goal, registering four assists and creating two big chances for his teammates, in addition to taking an average of 1.3 shots, making 1.6 key passes and completing 0.9 dribbles per game.
As such, while the Carabao Cup may not be Conte’s biggest priority this season, with the competition offering Spurs the chance to win their first trophy since they won the same tournament back in 2008, it is clear the news that a player as important as Kulusevski may not be fit to feature against Forest tonight will have come as a huge blow to the Italian manager.