That’s according to Antonio Conte, who revealed in his pre-match press conference (via football.london) that, despite having recovered from a tendon injury that saw the winger miss 10 fixtures in all competitions earlier this month, the Brazilian is still not fit to feature against the Magpies from the off at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium tomorrow.
Regarding Moura’s condition, the Italian said: “When you have [Dejan] Kulusevski injured and Richarlison injured, then also Lucas Moura recovering from a long tendon injury – now he’s improving but, in my opinion, he’s not ready to start a game – for sure this type of situation creates a big, big difficulty.”
Considering just how poor Tottenham looked in a 3-5-2 formation in the 2-0 defeat to Manchester United last time out, Conte’s claim that Moura is not ready to start against Newcastle tomorrow is undoubtedly bad news for Spurs.
Indeed, with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min managing just two shots on target between them over the course of the 90 minutes at Old Trafford, as well as a central midfield trio of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Yves Bissouma and Rodrigo Bentancur offering Tottenham extremely little going forwards, it is clear a 3-4-3 formation much better suits Conte’s side at present.
However, with both Kulusevski and Richarlison being ruled out due to injury, unless the 53-year-old manager deploys Ivan Perisic in a more advanced role than his typical position at wing-back, Moura is very much the Italian’s only real option to deploy alongside Kane and Son in a front three.
And, while the Brazilian is not exactly a bonafide starter for Conte, he nevertheless proved his usefulness over 34 Premier League appearances last season – only 19 of which came as starts – scoring two goals, registering six assists and creating 11 big chances for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 1.1 shots, making one key pass and completing 1.6 dribbles per game.
These returns saw the £13m-rated talent average an extremely impressive SofaScore match rating of 7.00, ranking him as Conte’s 10th-best performer in the top flight of English football in Spurs’ 2021/22 campaign.
As such, considering Moura’s undoubted ability in the final third, as well as the 30-year-old being key to Tottenham being able to set up in a 3-4-3 tomorrow, the winger’s lack of match fitness will undoubtedly be a big blow for Conte – who will most certainly hope Spurs can get back to winning ways after a disappointing defeat in midweek.