Tottenham Hotspur will be without its coach Antonio Conte for its Premier League match against Manchester City on Sunday.
Spurs announced last week that Conte will be undergoing surgery to remove his gallbladder after being diagnosed of cholecystitis.
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Cristian Stellini, the assistant manager of the side, will be in charge as it takes on Pep Guardiola’s City.
Conte was in the dugout at the weekend for Tottenham’s 3-0 FA Cup fourth round win at Preston North End, but was taken ill with “severe abdominal pain” that was later diagnosed as cholecystitis, a swelling of the gallbladder.
Although Conte revealed on Instagram that his surgery had gone well, it had not been expected he would be on the touchline for the Premier League champions’ visit to north London on Sunday.
Stellini, however, did not rule out the possibility that the 53-year-old would be back to take charge of the team, which is fifth in the Premier League.
“We don’t know yet when Antonio is coming back. Everything is possible,” he said on Friday. “The surgery was good. He is recovering well. At the moment he is at home. We have two days for the game and everything can happen.”
Stellini said Conte had called him after his surgery to talk about training and the match against City. “I was a player with Antonio so I know very well his mentality, what he wants from the team,” he said.
“Everyone in the staff is ready to transfer to the players the idea of Antonio. For me it is easier maybe than some new assistant because I know Antonio very well. Antonio sent me a message and he trusts in us completely.”
Though Stellini had not ruled out the possibility of the 53-year-old being back in charge of the team, reports from England, hours before the game, suggested that the Italian will have to wait longer to recuperate from his surgery.
(WITH INPUTS FROM REUTERS)