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Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte has admitted to being worried about Dejan Kulusevski’s injury situation and joked further problems in attack will force him out of retirement.

The Sweden international has not played for Spurs since September 17 after he sustained a hamstring issue whilst away on national team duty.

Kulusevski was set to return this month but now faces a race against time to be fit before the Premier League pauses on November 13 for the World Cup in Qatar.

“Deki Kulusevski is not available. I think we have to wait a bit of time to see him with us,” ex-midfielder Conte admitted ahead of Sunday’s visit of Newcastle.

Dejan Kulusevski
Dejan Kulusevski faces an extended lay-off (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Yeah (I am worried) because his recovery was going well and then one day the situation worsened.

“Then when this type of situation happens, you have to restart. You need time, but we have the medical department to face injury situations and they have to solve the situation in a short period because you know if you are good to solve the situation in a short period, it means points in the table.”

With Richarlison also unlikely to feature again until next month, it leaves Conte heavily reliant on Harry Kane and Son Heung-min given Lucas Moura has only recently returned from a long-term calf issue and Bryan Gil’s inexperience in England.

The Italian added: “For sure this type of situation creates a big, big difficulty.

“For me, also fingers crossed because at the moment we have Harry and Sonny in good health. I hope they continue to stay that way or I’ll have to think about putting my shoes on to play, me!

“We know with the club the difficulties of the season. Now to complain, I think it’s not right or fair.

Antonio Conte kicks on the touchline
Antonio Conte joked he may have to lace his boots up if Tottenham’s injury problems continue (Nigel French/PA)

“When you go to play Champions League, especially if you play in the Premier League, you have to know that you’re going to have a difficult season for injuries, for massive games, for players who become tired.

“Sometimes you can give rest, sometimes you have to force the situation and risk injuries. This situation is part of the process for a club like Tottenham to understand very well the way to face this strong situation, because I think we’re really happy to play Champions League.”

Conte will have Emerson Royal back from suspension for the clash with Newcastle, who were called a “dangerous team” by the Tottenham manager.

The Saudi-backed Magpies spent heavily in January and again this summer with the club’s aspiration clear to join Spurs in the top six.

“You have to consider Newcastle for the present and for the future as a danger, as a dangerous team for the first position, for the Champions League position, for the fight to win trophies,” Conte insisted.

“For sure Newcastle also needed a bit of time but they have the potential to go into the market, and they did this also this summer, and to become one of the best teams in England.

“For this reason, many clubs have to pay great attention.”