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Tottenham boss Antonio Conte is already eyeing a return to action despite being told to rest by doctors following his recent operation.

The 53-year-old is currently in Italy and will not be on the touchline for Sunday’s visit of West Ham after he encountered a setback following surgery to remove his gallbladder on February 1.

Conte was back at work eight days after his medical procedure and present for the defeats at Leicester and AC Milan but now faces a period away.

It means Cristian Stellini will again step up and take on first-team duties but he has already had his boss in his ear expressing a desire to return.

“Health is more important than football and this is the reason why the club, Antonio and the doctors decided to take this responsibility and leave Antonio in Italy after the last game. We don’t know the time. He needs to rest,” Stellini revealed.

“We have a call every day, many times in a day, probably three times per day and every time he wants to come back.

“He repeats every day, ‘I want to come back Cristian, I’m sorry but how was training, tomorrow we have to organise something particular, we have to organise the team, what do you feel, what do you think,’ but he wants to come back. That is every time in his sentences.”

Stellini refused to put a timescale on Conte’s return but will get the chance to continue his good record while deputising this weekend.

He has won both fixtures for Spurs when Conte was unavailable against Marseille and Manchester City and achieved three wins out of three when deputising at Inter Milan during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

“I have the same authority before he came back,” Stellini added.

“Since the moment he came back after two days Antonio’s feeling was that maybe he underestimated the procedure after the surgery. Coming close to the (Leicester) game, the stress, the tension he lives normally before the game created some problems.

“When they checked with the doctor, with the club, they spoke for a long time about this and the decision was this. He needs to take it easy again. He will come back soon but not like he hoped.

“The doctor thinks about the timing and they have an idea but it is really a feeling from Antonio. He explained very well that the surgery was not an easy surgery.

“It was a surgery with emergency. The inflammation was big and maybe they underestimated this situation.

“He needs time to be 100 per cent and Antonio not at 100 per cent is not Antonio. That creates stress and overstress and this is dangerous after a surgery like that.”

Changes could be made following back-to-back defeats and with Son Heung-min’s poor form continuing.

AC Milan v Tottenham Hotspur – UEFA Champions League – Round of 16 – First Leg – San Siro Stadium
Richarlison is now fully recovered from a recent hamstring injury (Fabrizio Carabelli/PA)

Richarlison, a £60million summer signing from Everton, could benefit after fully recovering from his recent hamstring injury.

Stellini said: “We missed Richy. In the best moment we had him at the start of the season, he was a player who changed our game, he changed the pace of the game during the game and when he started.

“We’ve lost him sometimes and we have to accept it and work to have him back at the top and his performance now I think could be good.”