Cristian Stellini admits he should have pushed Tottenham manager Antonio Conte to rest more following his latest setback.
Stellini will be back in charge for Sunday’s visit of West Ham after doctors ordered Conte to rest during a check-up on Wednesday.
Conte had surgery to remove his gallbladder on February 1 but returned to work eight days later and was on the touchline for defeats at Leicester and AC Milan.
The 53-year-old was not his usual high-octane self in either game and it has now been revealed he was in pain, which has resulted in this latest period of absence.
“After the Milan game, I felt sad because maybe I didn’t push enough to take this decision before. I felt responsible because Antonio’s pain continued under stress. I don’t want to feel like this again. I push him to come back when he’s 100 per cent,” Stellini insisted.
“It’s a big responsibility and I feel this but it’s not the first day I am here, it’s not the first day that I stay with the players and take responsibility.
“When I see the players and the team during the training, I feel we are capable to win every game and to progress in the Champions League, to win the next game, to win the game after in the FA Cup.
“I think we can do it. We have a good squad and without Antonio they show to us they take much more responsibility in this way.
“I sleep well. I have the team and I follow the team every day and this gives to me the feeling to be confident.”
Even though Conte has been told to concentrate on his recovery, Stellini revealed he has his boss on the phone three times a day to talk tactics.
The former Chelsea manager has also reiterated his desire to return to work and may have an eye on the visit of his old team on February 26.
But Stellini added: “Antonio feels the same every moment, every day.
“It is not because it’s Chelsea next. He wants to come back Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday but he has taken an important decision with the club.
“When Antonio is 100 per cent he will come back and not one day before. We made a mistake before and we don’t want to repeat this. We have to hope this time arrives as soon as possible.
“It could be before Chelsea or after Chelsea. We have to accept that and Antonio needs to accept that. People around Antonio like our doctor, the doctor that did the surgery, his wife and his family, have to force him.”
Conte was involved in team selection for the win over Manchester City, where he was restricted to a watching brief from his Italian home days after surgery.
This time he may have an impact during the match.
“Antonio is involved 100 per cent,” Stellini said.
“Probably we have some communication with him better than the last time. I don’t know what type, we didn’t speak about this (yet).”