Antonio Conte accused football’s organisers of demonstrating a lack of care for players after Son Heung-min joined Tottenham’s mounting injury list ahead of the World Cup.
Tottenham have the chance to move 13 points ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League table when they host the Reds on Sunday, but have been beset by fitness concerns in recent weeks.
With Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski already sidelined, Spurs suffered a huge blow on Tuesday when Son sustained a fracture around his left eye in their Champions League win at Marseille, throwing his chances of featuring in Qatar into doubt.
Defender Cristian Romero, meanwhile, has missed Tottenham’s last two games with a calf problem, and will not be fit to return against Liverpool.
Speaking at Friday’s pre-match news conference, Conte said the game’s organisers were paying lip service to concerns over player welfare.
“It’s better to start with a smile. We need to face this situation, we need to try to finish these three games in the best possible way,” Conte said.
“We have these injuries; Richarlison is not available for the game, it’s the same for Romero.
“About Romero, I can tell you if he has the possibility to play with one leg, he will play with one leg. I tell the fans that we have players really committed to the club.
“Maybe Romero has an injury because he wanted to take a risk, but for sure, many teams are having big injuries, because we are playing every three days.
“We are seeing this situation is impossible for the future. Many times, I hear about the welfare of the players, but [talking] is only a polite way of showing they care.
Wishing you all the best in your recovery, Sonny
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) November 2, 2022
“They’re not really worried about the welfare of the players if the schedule is this, if the most important thing is that the show must go on.
“In the future, I don’t want to hear or speak about the welfare of the players, because this is not true.”
Conte offered more positive updates on the conditions of Rodrigo Bentancur and Kulusevski – the latter having not featured since September after sustaining a hamstring injury – but Lucas Moura’s participation against Liverpool appears uncertain.
“Bentancur is much better and was part of a training session,” Conte said. “It was the same for Kulusevski, he had half a training session with us.
“The problem is Lucas Moura is having different phases with his pain. Today it was really bad, and they told me he was really worried about this. I asked him to try to be available.”
Sunday’s match will represent the first time Tottenham have hosted Liverpool while above them in the Premier League table since October 2017, when they posted a 4-1 win over the Reds.
That, however, remains Spurs’ most recent league victory against Liverpool, who are unbeaten in the teams’ nine subsequent meetings in the competition (W6 D3).