Antonio Conte warns World Cup winner Cristian Romero of high expectations

Antonio Conte is happy to have Tottenham’s World Cup winner Cristian Romero back at his disposal, but has warned the defender that a “difficult period” lies ahead.

Romero had a stellar tournament in Qatar and two weeks ago he helped Argentina triumph over France in the final.

He returned to training on Tuesday and will feature in Spurs’ New Year’s Eve clash at home to Aston Villa, where he could face compatriot Emiliano Martinez.

Argentina won the World Cup in Qatar (Martin Rickett/PA)

Conte said: “From what I’ve seen in the last few days during training, I’ve seen him with great concentration and with a great desire to return to play with us and to get my mind into Tottenham’s situation.

“I’m certainly really happy for him and it’s important for us to have two World Cup champions in our team in Hugo (Lloris) and Cuti.

“But he must know very well that now the most difficult period for him begins because the expectation will become high for him. For this he must work much more and continue to work, above all not to lose the desire to improve ”.

Romero experienced a mixed first half of the season with a calf injury ruling him out of several key games for Spurs.

Cristian Romero in action during Argentina's run for glory

Cristian Romero in action during Argentina’s run to glory (Peter Byrne/PA)

The 24-year-old last played for Tottenham in a 1-1 draw against Sporting Lisbon on 26 October, which was the start of their poor run which has seen them concede the opener in each of their last nine games in all competitions.

“It’s certainly strange,” said Conte of Spurs who have gone behind on nine consecutive occasions.

“It’s a strange situation to concede the first goal and go down nine times in a row. Is very strange. At the same time our reaction is good and try to equalize the result.

“Many times we win the game, but for sure we have to try from the start of the game to be really focused and get into the game quickly. We have to be more careful in the defensive phase and not give our opponent the chance to score.

“We talked to the players and maybe when you have to play many games in a row and you don’t have the opportunity to work on the tactical and defensive aspect you can lose something but certainly our intention is to try to avoid going down 1-0, down 2-0 and start the match in the best possible way.”

Lloris will be back in goal for Spurs, having been on the bench at Brentford, but Rodrigo Bentancur (hamstring) is out and has been sent in for a scan. Lucas Moura (hamstring) and Richarlison (hamstring) are sidelined.

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