Antonio Conte was absent again from the Tottenham Hotspur dugout as his side lost 1-0 at Wolves in the Premier League on March 4.
Conte had initially missed Spurs’ 1-0 win over Manchester City on February 5 after having his gallbladder removed, suffering from “severe abdominal pain”.
Assistant coach Cristian Stellini led the team at the Etihad Stadium but Conte returned for the subsequent defeats at Leicester City and AC Milan in the Premier League and Champions League.
However, the former midfielder missed the home win against Chelsea and took an additional break following a post operation check-up during Spurs’ trip to Italy.
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Conte returned from his recuperation in Italy to take training and attend a press conference the day before Tottenham’s home game against Milan.
“This type of situation can happen and I discovered after the surgery that many of my friends had the same surgery,” he explained. “This was emergency surgery – not planned – and that’s very different.
“For sure, I under-evaulated the recovery after surgery. For my sense of responsibility, I wanted to come back early.
“Maybe I over-evaluated my body and myself. Now I’m well and I’ve recovered energy. I have to recover weight but, for the rest, my feeling is good. I try to transfer my energy to my players. It’s an important game for us.
“It’s important for me to work with my players and the staff and prepare for the games. From afar, I tried to stay very close with my players using video.
🗣️ “I’m glad the manager is sitting next to me.” 🙌
Heung-min Son on welcoming back Antonio Conte to the touchline again pic.twitter.com/Ib29qWNSVh
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 7, 2023
“To be present is totally different and, for this reason, I have to say thanks to my whole staff. They did a really good job and for the players to go three weeks without the manager wasn’t easy. Now I’m back and I’m really happy.”
Attacker Son Heung-min called Conte’s return “important.” “I’m glad that the manager is sitting next to me,” said the South Korea superstar.
“He brings good energy to the team. When the boss isn’t here, it’s different. Yesterday we could feel that energy and, with his passion on the touchline, we’ll feel more comfortable.”
Despite returning to his role, Spurs have opted for caution over Conte’s full comeback, with Stellini and Ryan Mason taking on a greater role in training and match days.
Conte attended a pre-scheduled health check in Italy after undergoing the operation in his native country two weeks ago, then followed medical advice to stay in Italy.
Following a routine post-operation check in Italy yesterday, Antonio Conte will remain at his family home to recover from his recent surgery.
Health is the most important consideration and everyone at the Club wishes him well.
Cristian Stellini will assume First Team duties. pic.twitter.com/k9L4ZcpGhv
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 16, 2023
Speaking after the defeat at Molineux, Stellini said that Conte would return to the fold the following day. “Antonio will be a massive boost for us from tomorrow until the end of the season,” he added.
“It is important that Antonio is back. We wanted to have him back after a different result but the team showed to Antonio they are alive.”
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Stellini originally said: “Since he came back he felt that maybe he underestimated the procedure after the surgery. Then coming closer to the game, the stress of it all, it created some problems. When he spoke to the doctor they said he needed to take it easy. He will be back soon but not as quickly as he would like.
“We have a call every day, maybe three times a day and every time he wants to come back. He repeats every day ‘I want to come back, Cristian – I’m sorry, how was the training? Tomorrow we have to organise this, we have to organise the team, what do you think?’. That is every time in his sentence.
“It’s more important than football and this is the reason why the club, Antonio and the doctors made this decision. We don’t know the time. The doctor has an idea but really it’s a feeling from Antonio. That surgery was not easy, it was an emergency surgery and maybe he underestimated this. Antonio not 100% is not Antonio, and this creates stress.”
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Will Antonio Conte return against AC Milan?
It is almost certain that Conte will be back in the technical area for the match, when Tottenham will bid to put successive defeats behind them by turning their Champions League fortunes around.
Spurs lost the first leg of their round of 16 tie 1-0 in Milan but will be hopeful of prevailing in the return game against opponents who lost at Fiorentina on Saturday.
In a previous interview with Sky Sports, Stellini said Conte has been finding it difficult to be away from the role.
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“Antonio is recovering and is a bit upset because he cannot be here with us. But he’s fine, physically. We understand he needs to recover from the surgery and now he needs to take his time.
“He is available. We speak about the team and training every day and some decisions we will take together.
“But this time is good only for his recovery because when Antonio is far from his job, he’s not happy. He is happier here, working with us and the team. Maybe it’s a different type of stress, but he needs to take it easy. I don’t have an idea when he will be back, though.”
Antonio Conte surgery details
Conte was diagnosed with cholecystitis — a reddening or swelling of the gallbladder — a pouch in the stomach.
The gallbladder is not needed and removal is a common procedure, with most people allowed to leave hospital the same day, or within 24 hours following keyhole surgery.