Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte has spoken out on the confusion surrounding central defender Cristian Romero over the international break.
The lowdown: Romero left red-faced
This comes after the 23-year-old flew out to join up with Argentina for international duty despite being suspended for both of their fixtures.
The South American nation had hoped Romero would be made available for a clash with Ecuador following an appeal against a two-match ban.
However, the decision wasn’t overturned and the defender returned to the UK without playing a single competitive minute, but with plenty of miles on the clock nonetheless.
The latest: Conte tight-lipped
Speaking at the pre-match press conference ahead of a meeting with Newcastle United, Conte refused to be drawn into the details of the situation.
As quoted by football.london in an update shared by Alasdair Gold on Twitter, the Italian was left bewildered it all: “I still don’t understand the situation. I spoke with the player. It was very curious. It was a strange decision for the player. He’s here though and he’s had good training sessions this week.”
Conte also stated that he’d ‘prefer not to answer’ too many questions on the confusion having himself managed at the national team level with Italy previously, admitting that the fact Argentina had qualified despite the ten-cap ace not featuring was the main detail.
The verdict: Fit and firing
Regardless of the bizarre circumstances, Conte may be quietly delighted that the £36million valued star was deemed ineligible for duty during the break, even if he would have preferred to keep him at Hotspur way.
Having already missed 20 games through various injury and fitness issues this season, it’s crucial that the Argentine remains available for the remainder of the campaign if Spurs are going to compete for a place in the Premier League top four.
When comparing Romero with fellow Lilywhites centre-backs, it’s the Argentinian who prevails as he is outperforming both Eric Dier and Joe Rodon when it comes to tackles per match (2.4), interceptions per match (1.4) and average rating (WhoScored).
Moreover, whilst there remains competition for places at centre-back in N17, statistics would suggest that when fit and available, Romero is among the first names on the team-sheet, having featured from the start in 15 of 16 top-flight outings this term (Sofascore).
In other news: Tottenham eyeing move for EPL star. Read more here.
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