Antonio Conte blames fixture pile-up after Premier League reject postponement request

Antonio Conte said the spiraling backlog of Tottenham’s matches may be responsible for the Premier League’s rejection of the club’s request to postpone Thursday’s match at Leicester City and warned its players of the risk of further injury after contracting Covid-19.

Tottenham were forced to close their training ground last week after a severe outbreak of the disease as at least nine players and several members tested positive with positive results.

Tottenham’s UEFA Conference League match against Rennes and last weekend’s league match against Brighton has been called off as a result.

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Sources told ESPN that Tottenham then asked to move their match against Leicester to allow them space to rearrange their encounters with Rennes, which UEFA insists must be played before the end of the month.

Tottenham are already facing heavy fixture congestion because last month’s away game at Burnley was postponed due to heavy snow, and Conte told a news conference: “For me, it’s very difficult to talk about it.

“The Premier League certainly did not want to postpone the match against Leicester, perhaps because we have to play against Burnley and Brighton. We have postponed two games before. I can understand, we can understand.”

Leicester president Brendan Rodgers also confirmed that they had requested a rescheduling of Thursday’s match after nine players were reported to be absent due to illness or due to Covid-19. The Premier League judges every issue on a match-by-match basis, and sources have told ESPN that other clubs have turned down requests this season and last season.

Tottenham face the possibility of being eliminated from the European Conference League as they need to beat Rennes in their final Group G match at home to secure a place in the play-off against Rapid Vienna for a place in the Round of 16.

Sources told ESPN that during the discussions, Tottenham offered to play the game in France if it would help find a solution.

“On the other hand, I think we deserve to play our chance against Rennes to go to the next group,” Conte added. “We haven’t found a good solution between UEFA and the Premier League, so why should Tottenham pay for it? Isn’t it fair that we pay for a situation that is not our fault? I understand if we have done something wrong but in this way, for the club, the players and the coaching staff, from It is very difficult to understand what is happening.

“Last week was terrible. It was terrible because the government decided – I think also in the right way – to close our training ground and stop our training sessions.

“On Wednesday, I held a press conference and said it was very difficult to talk about football today. And then we had Thursday, Friday and Saturday without training sessions. But on Sunday the government reopened our training center and we started working again with not many players because we had problems With an under-23 team. We started with 13 or 14 players.

“But today we trained with 16 players and more young players.”

Tottenham fully reopened first-team areas at their Tottenham training base on Tuesday but with the situation slowly improving, Conte’s concerns over COVID-19 are giving way to what is believed to be the possibility of infections stemming from the 10-day isolation period.

“Certainly, some players tomorrow cannot play,” Conte said. “The players are back in training and today two players are back in training for the first time. And yesterday another player. But as you know very well, they should be fit to play. Tomorrow I will put these guys on the bench for 15-20 minutes at the end.. They have 20 or 25 minutes in their legs to play with us.

“I think it’s the biggest problem that we have to be. [prepared] to face the future. To make these players affected by COVID get fit and avoid injuries. This may be the biggest problem in the future, not the ten days.

“After 10 days you have players available but then you have to pay attention to the way of training, whether the body is ready to work in a good way. A problem, not only for Tottenham but for other clubs with players who have coronavirus.”

Meanwhile, sources told ESPN that Manchester United’s match against Brighton, scheduled for Saturday, remains in doubt.

Tuesday’s trip to Brentford was postponed after the club was forced to close first-team operations at its Carrington training base on Monday.

About 17 first-team players, including Cristiano Ronaldo and David de Gea, returned to Carrington on Wednesday to undergo further rounds of testing and participate in training and preparation work.

Sources told ESPN that United continue to contact the Premier League about the squad’s status, and while the club has not made a request to postpone the meeting with Brighton, the situation will be assessed on a daily basis.

Information from ESPN’s Rob Dawson is included in this report.


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