Tottenham Hotspur and Republic of Ireland right wing-back Matt Doherty may be shocked at his lack of playing time under Antonio Conte so far this season.
That is according to journalist Paul Brown, who was speaking to GiveMeSport about the latest news from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium ahead of the club’s trip to Sporting in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Spurs signed Doherty from Premier League rivals Wolves in August 2020 for a rumoured fee of £14.7m.
The 30-year-old full-back struggled to adapt to life under then-manager Jose Mourinho, and things didn’t change for him when his former Wolves head coach Nuno Espírito Santo took over at Hotspur Way at the beginning of the following season.
However, following the appointment of Conte last November, the Dublin-born wing-back made 21 appearances for the Lilywhites, scoring two goals and providing four assists until a medial collateral ligament injury ended his season in April.
However, Doherty has played just eight minutes of football this season – something Brown believes the former Bohemians man will be surprised about.
He said: “It took Doherty quite a long while to convince Conte and, by the end of the season, he was holding him up as an example of someone who had forced their way back into the team and come back from adversity.
“So, to see him back out on the sidelines is a bit of a surprise and I’m sure he’s quite shocked by it too.”
TIF Thoughts on Brown’s comments…
We are also surprised by Doherty’s lack of playing time this season and thought that his form before injury last season would secure him the starting right wing-back spot at the beginning of the campaign over Emerson Royal.
The 29-cap Republic of Ireland international, who has previously been described as “utterly thrilling” by Jack Pitt-Brooke, compares favourably amongst his peers across Europe in terms of attacking stats, ranking in the top 1% of full-backs across Europe’s top five leagues and European competition for non-penalty goals per 90 minutes (0.21) and assists per 90 (0.41), as well as in the top 2% for touches in the opposition area per 90 (3.90) over the last 365 days, according to FBref.
We are therefore intrigued as to why Doherty hasn’t been given a proper run of games so far this season now he has had the time to become match-fit, but would back the Irishman to force his way into the team once again.