March 7 (Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur boss Antonio Conte said he underestimated the recovery period after his gallbadder surgery which kept him out of action for a month and the Italian cannot wait to return to the touchline when they host AC Milan in the Champions League.
Conte underwent emergency surgery but made a quick return to the dugout last month before doctors advised him to rest and recover again as he watched Spurs games from home while his assistant Cristian Stellini took charge of the team.
The Italian said he wanted to return early after Spurs were knocked out of the FA Cup by Sheffield United last week but he respected the wishes of worried doctors who had put their foot down and asked him to return only on Sunday.
“For sure I under-evaluated the recovery after surgery. For this reason I think that for my sense of responsibility I wanted to come back early,” Conte told reporters on Tuesday, a day before Milan visit looking to defend their 1-0 lead from the last 16 first leg.
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“Maybe I over-evaluated my body and myself. Now I’m well, I’ve recovered energy and 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. To be present is totally different and for this reason I have to say thanks to my whole staff.”
Spurs forward Son Heung-min said he was glad to have Conte back as his energy was infectious.
“He brings good energy to the team. When the boss isn’t here it’s different,” Son said.
“Yesterday we could feel that energy and his passion. If he’s on the touchline, the players will be more comfortable and will give us an amazing boost.”
Spurs are fourth in the league and the success of their season could hinge on going through to the next round of the Champions League, with Conte saying they have to cope with “living with pressure” and using it in a positive way.
“We live for these moments because when the pressure is going up it means your level is going up,” Conte said.
“Don’t forget that last season we were playing in the Conference League. This season we’re playing in the Champions League.
“If you ask me if I want to win the Champions League I would say yes, but then there is the reality. We have to go game by game.”
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru;
Editing by Christian Radnedge
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