London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur boss Antonio Conte has refused to set a timeframe for ending the north London club’s long wait for silverware as he insisted trophies were the “target”.
Europe’s new third-tier Conference League, where Spurs travel to Slovenia for a tie with NS Mura on Thursday, may offer the best hope of ending a trophy drought dating back to a 2008 English League Cup triumph.
But recently-appointed Spurs head coach Conte, who guided london rivals Chelsea to the 2016/17 Premier League title and 2018 FA Cup, is well aware of the scale of the challenge.
“I know this is not simple, I am honest to understand this, but we want to try and build something important and try and lift trophies together, this must be our target,” he told a pre-match press conference on Wednesday.
The 52-year-old Italian added: “To build something ready to fight, in England it is not easy because the other teams are very, very strong but I know that through the work we can improve a lot.
“If you ask me how much time we need before it happens, it is very difficult to tell you this. In our heart and mind, this must be our inspiration and we are to try to do this for the best of the club.”
Conte’s predecessor, Nuno Espirito Santo left his entire first-choice starting XI at home for the game away to Vitesse Arnhem last month in order to ensure they were available for a Premier League match at West Ham.
Spurs lost both matches, however.
Conte said he would take his strongest available squad to Slovenia for a game against the Conference League’s lowest-ranked team after launching his Tottenham reign with last weekend’s 2-1 win over Leeds in the Premier League.
“All the players available will come with us,” he added. “They must be ready to play against Mura.
“I said on Sunday that I need to make rotation because there are players that are a bit tired because they played many games with the national team and also we worked a lot in the last two weeks.
“There are other players that need game time. For us this competition is important. We want to take this fixture seriously and we want to go through to the next step”.
Tottenham, who have 11 games before the end of the year, will be without Cristian Romero.
The defender suffered what Conte said was a “serious” hamstring injury playing for Argentina in last week’s World Cup qualifier against Brazil.
“About Cristian Romero, we’re waiting for another scan,” Conte said. “Honestly, I think his injury is serious. We have to wait.
“I don’t know the time he needs to recover.”
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