Antonio Conte backs ‘suffering’ Tottenham star Heung-min Son as new season struggles continue

Conte admitted Son was “in pain” after last season’s Golden Boot winner was frustrated in front of goal again at the City Ground, as Harry Kane scored in each half and missed a penalty to continue the good start to the Spurs season.

Son hasn’t scored in his first four games of the campaign and has been overshadowed by Kane, Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison at Forest, but Conte says he will also be a key part of his team.

“Sonny is a really sensible player,” Conte said afterwards. “He’s really sensible and a top man, a really good guy.

“If I have to give an example, I have to find a husband for my daughter, I would like to be a person like him!

“At the moment he may be suffering a lot from not scoring. But he has to continue like this and trust himself because in every game he has the opportunity, the chance to score and then he has to be calm. We make him confidence and teammates.

“You know very well the importance of this player with Harry Kane and for sure he is a bit disappointed not to score but no problem. For me Sonny will always be a nut in my team, in my ambition of football.”

Spurs were second best for long stretches against Steve Cooper’s newly promoted side but their quality in the final third showed it, with Kane finishing thanks to brilliant assists from Kulusevski and substitute Richarlison.

“I think we deserved to win,” Conte said. “It was a difficult game. It was the first time [playing Forest] and I was really surprised to hear a lot of noise around the stadium and the pitch, and the Nottingham Forest supporters pushed the team a lot. But at the same time, I think we were good at overcoming the moments we suffered.

“I think in the second half we improved a lot because in the first half we didn’t use our midfielders a lot, and we wanted to go one way, the other, c It was easier for Forest to put the pressure on and make us feel a little insecure.

“In the second half we had the chance to score the second goal. We could have scored the third goal with the penalty, but honestly I don’t think he missed it. I think it was a very good save. The goalkeeper was amazing. It’s not easy to come here and get three points.”

Son’s position could now be threatened by Richarlison, who assisted Kane’s second goal with a brilliant cross from outside the boot.

The Brazilian also drew ire from Forest supporters for juggling the ball in the 88th minute as time ran out, prompting Brennan Johnson to slam him down and earn a booking.

“He juggled the ball,” Conte said. “It’s a game and you’re under pressure. I’ll say it again, it’s okay. I don’t think Richy meant any disrespect to Nottingham Forest. Forest are a very good team with a great history in football and we have a great respect. Richy certainly thinks the same way. He’s not disrespectful to anyone and I can tell you that.”

The Spurs head coach has also targeted the Premier League on Spurs’ schedule, with his side now facing the London derbies against West Ham on Wednesday and Fulham on Saturday in the next five days.

“I have been very clear with my players and we now have three days to recover before the game against West Ham,” said the Italian.

“And after Wednesday night we are going to play on Saturday. I think we are the only top six team to have played three games in six days. I don’t want to complain, as I said before. But I think that this time we were unlucky and hopefully next time someone else will be unlucky like us and not always Tottenham.


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