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TOTTENHAM manager Antonio Conte confirmed today that eight players and five members of staff have tested positive for coronavirus following an outbreak at the club — and that he expects more confirmed cases.
However, Spurs will still have to play their crunch Europa Conference League game against Rennes tomorrow, under strict Uefa rules regarding the minimum number of players available — the fixture would only be in jeopardy if a club has fewer than 13 players or no registered goalkeeper available.
It remains unclear whether the club will ask for their Premier League match at Brighton on Sunday to be postponed.
“Eight players and five members of staff,” Conte announced at a press conference, which was held virtually rather than in person at the club’s Hotspur Way training centre.
“Every day we are having people with Covid, people who were not positive yesterday. This is not a good situation.”
Conte was supposed to be joined by Spurs’ Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg at the pre-match press conference, but instead faced the media on his own.
“To speak about football today is impossible. The last situation made me very upset,” he said.
“The situation is serious. There is a big infection.
“We prepare for the game against Rennes, but it is very difficult.
“Again at the end of the session, one player [tested] positive, another staff [member] positive — tomorrow, who [will it be]?
“Now, for sure, we are a bit scared because tomorrow we don’t know what happens.”
An emotional Conte admitted that the situation was “so strange and incredible.”
“This for sure makes me upset because I am here to talk about football, about my players and the atmosphere that I want to see tomorrow,” he said. “Instead we are talking about the people that have Covid.”
Conte was not able to confirm whether the Omicron variant was at the centre of the outbreak. He confirmed that he had been vaccinated.
Referring to vaccination take-up within his squad, the Spurs boss said: “I think everyone takes [their own] best decision, and [it’s] a question for the medical department about people, whether they are vaccinated or not.”
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