Antonio Conte impressed with Djed Spence’s desire to improve

Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
(Image credit: Kirsty O’Connor)

Antonio Conte has been impressed with Djed Spence’s desire to improve during his first few weeks at Tottenham but the full-back is expected to miss out on a return to his old club Nottingham Forest.

Spurs travel to the City Ground on Sunday to take on Steve Cooper’s side, who won promotion to the Premier League via the Sky Bet Championship play-offs last season.

Defender Spence was integral to Forest’s success and played 46 times on loan from Middlesbrough, which saw Tottenham spend an initial £12.5million on securing his services in July.

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Conte immediately preached patience with the 22-year-old and while he was named on the bench for the league opener with Southampton, he has not been part of the squads to face Chelsea or Wolves and looks set to be absent from the match-day 18 for the trip to the City Ground.

Despite Spence currently being restricted to a watching front, he has already given his new manager plenty to be encouraged about with his work over the last month since his move from Middlesbrough.

“I was very clear at the start when I said this signing is a really good prospect,” Conte said.

“He’s a young player and the club wanted to invest in this player.

“The difference is clear. To play in the Championship with Nottingham Forest and then with Tottenham, he needs time to adapt himself in many aspects, in the physical aspect and the tactical aspect because now he is working with another coach.

“I’m seeing a lot of desire, a lot of will from this player to try to reduce this gap and to be ready.

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“With a young player, it’s important to have patience, to work and then to improve. I’m sure Djed for the future will be an important player for Tottenham.”

Spurs’ trip to Nottingham begins a three-week period of seven matches, five in the Premier League and two Champions League group stage fixtures.

Boss Conte acknowledged on Friday the need to rotate during this packed 21-day schedule and may decided to mix up his squad at the City Ground ahead of Wednesday’s trip to West Ham but was quick to heap praise on Sunday’s two-time European champions.

He added: “Forest started the season very well. I think it’s good, nice to have Nottingham Forest in the Premier League because we’re talking about a club with a great history.

“I’ve seen there’s a great enthusiasm, a great atmosphere and my expectation is to play around a lot of noise.

“But we’re working well and preparing well. We know the game will be difficult. We have to go into the game with the right mind and try to do our best.”

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