Eddie Jones believes England's loss to Argentina was partly down to being too focused on next year's Rugby World Cup as he accepted full responsibility for the defeat.

England were on the end of a surprise 30-29 reverse at a packed Twickenham on Sunday – only their second ever home defeat to Argentina.

The sides will meet again in their opening match of the 2023 World Cup next September, which Jones already had one eye on heading into last weekend's battle in London.

"When your team doesn't play to the potential you want, there is always something in the message that you're giving the team that's not quite clear," he said.

"We've been looking at a number of long-term strategies to get ourselves set for the World Cup. Maybe our focus wasn't tight enough on the Argentina game. 

"Maybe we were over-thinking a bit, and that's entirely my fault."

England reached the final in 2019 and are among the favourites to lift the trophy next year, alongside New Zealand, Ireland, hosts France and reigning champions South Africa.

The Red Rose endured another disappointing Six Nations campaign earlier this year, but they recovered with a battling 2-1 series win in Australia prior to losing to Argentina.

With less than a year to go before the World Cup begins, Jones is hoping to further develop his squad in time for the tournament.

"There are a cluster of teams at the top of world rugby," he said. "We want to break that cluster. To do that we have to have a number of different ways to play the game.

"This next 11 months is to get enough equipment in our armoury to play any way. 

"England rugby is traditionally about power rugby, winning the set-piece, smashing down the gain-line, but we have to learn from the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

"In the final, we came up against a side that had more power than us, and we were unable to beat them at that game."

England have made three changes to their 36-man squad for Saturday's showdown with Japan at Twickenham, which is followed by Tests against New Zealand and South Africa.

Pep Guardiola is unsure if Erling Haaland will feature against Chelsea, but midfielder Kalvin Phillips will be part of the squad for Wednesday's EFL Cup third-round tie.

Haaland returned from a two-game injury absence as a second-half substitute against Fulham at the weekend and scored a late penalty to snatch a 2-1 victory for his side.

However, the Norway international – who boasts 23 goals in 17 appearances for City – has still not fully recovered from the foot injury and may sit out the visit of Chelsea.

"He is still not perfect," Guardiola said at Tuesday's pre-match press conference. "We'll see tomorrow [Wednesday] and on Saturday [against Brentford]. He is getting better. 

"What's important is the bone isn't broken so there's no damage, just the ligament is damaged a bit. It's not perfect right now, but in one week or 10 days anything can happen."

Haaland is expected to be called up by Norway for this month's friendlies with Republic of Ireland and Finland, but Guardiola says that will depend on the striker's fitness.

"If he feels good, to play for the national team is important for the players," Guardiola said. "I have no problem for players when they are fit to play for the national team."

Wednesday's match will come too soon for England defender Kyle Walker, who remains a World Cup doubt, but international colleague Phillips will be available.

Phillips has played just 13 minutes since joining from Leeds United during the close season, owing to a shoulder injury that required surgery.

Despite his lack of playing time, the midfielder remains hopeful of being included as part of Gareth Southgate's 26-man squad for Qatar 2022, which will be named on Thursday.

Asked if he believes Phillips will be ready to play a part for England in Qatar, Guardiola said: "That is up to Gareth Southgate. I cannot answer, I don't know what the plan is. 

"I think they are communicating with the physios and doctors – the club and the English national team. Apart from that I cannot answer you, I don't know."

City have won the EFL Cup four times under Guardiola and advanced from each of their past nine third-round ties in the competition, scoring 34 goals in that period.

Meanwhile, Guardiola's side have won 10 of their past 14 home matches against Chelsea in all competitions, most recently winning 1-0 in the league in January.

City are also through to the last 16 of the Champions League and are two points behind Arsenal in the Premier League, with the FA Cup set to start in two months' time.

However, in a week his side posted an annual profit of £41.7million, up from £2.4m in the previous year, Guardiola insists he is not looking to strengthen in the January window.

"We are not going to do that," he said. "We have the squad we have, we are pleased and that's all."

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter says hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is "a mistake".

Blatter was in charge of football's world governing body in 2010 when the Gulf nation was controversially selected to stage the upcoming tournament.

The build-up to the showpiece, which begins on November 20, has been dominated by concerns over the treatment of workers and laws that criminalise same-sex relations.

Blatter, who was cleared of fraud charges by a Swiss court earlier this year over financial misconduct allegations, maintains he never personally voted for Qatar to hold the event.

"The choice of Qatar was a mistake," he said in an interview with Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

"At the time, we actually agreed in the executive committee that Russia should get the 2018 World Cup and the USA that of 2022. 

"It would have been a gesture of peace if the two long-standing political opponents had hosted the World Cup one after the other.

"[Qatar] is too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that."

Amid a backdrop of political unrest in the build-up to Qatar 2022, FIFA president Gianni Infantino last week urged the 32 competing nations to focus solely on football matters.

"We know football does not live in a vacuum and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world," FIFA's letter read.

"At FIFA, we try to respect all opinions and beliefs, without handing out moral lessons to the rest of the world. 

"One of the great strengths of the world is indeed its very diversity, and if inclusion means anything, it means having respect for that diversity."

Qatar has been transformed over the past 12 years in preparation for the event, but Blatter – who led FIFA for 17 years – says it should be held elsewhere.

"I can only repeat: the award to Qatar was a mistake, and I was responsible for that as president at the time," he said.

"Now that the World Cup is imminent, I'm glad that, with a few exceptions, no footballers are boycotting the World Cup. For me it is clear: Qatar is a mistake. The choice was bad."

Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton are reportedly keeping a close eye on Lille striker Jonathan David when he heads to the World Cup later this month to represent Canada.

David, 22, is enjoying a breakout season in Ligue 1, netting nine goals in 14 games as he begins to fulfil the potential that saw him become the most expensive Canadian transfer in history when he was purchased for €30million from Gent as a 20-year-old.

In a recent interview with Sky Sports News he made it clear he envisions his future being somewhere other than France, and with a strong performance at the World Cup, he could get his wish as soon as January.

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS KEEPING AN EYE ON CANADA STAR

In that Sky Sports News interview, David said "every player wants to play for a massive club in their life – I think if I had the chance to do it, I'll go for it for sure".

That is becoming more of a reality every day, according to a report from GiveMeSport, which names Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton as interested parties, while saying Manchester United could throw their hat in the ring if they like what they see in Qatar.

His price tag is expected to exceed €40m as a starting point, but that figure could skyrocket if he catches the eye in Qatar.

Another report from 90min adds that Arsenal are prepared to spend in the January window as they pursue their first Premier League title since 2003, potentially putting them in the box seat.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to Portuguese publication A Bola, Chelsea and Arsenal are interested in signing 25-year-old Porto winger Pepe, who has a €75m release clause in his contract.

– Sky Italy is reporting Chelsea's odds of landing Rafael Leao have improved as his contract negotiations with Milan make little progress.

Manchester United have made Borussia Dortmund's 19-year-old England midfielder Jude Bellingham their top target, and expect him to cost €150m, per Sky Germany.

– Meanwhile, Marca report Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group will sign Bellingham for €100m as a "parting gift" before selling the club.

– According to Sport Bild, 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund prospect Youssoufa Moukoko is holding off on signing a new contract that will pay him €5m per year due to interest being shown from Barcelona.

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte is "confident" Son Heung-min will be able to feature for South Korea at the World Cup in Qatar.

The forward suffered a fractured eye socket during Spurs' 2-1 victory against Marseille in the Champions League in midweek, sparking concerns about his availability for the upcoming tournament.

It was then confirmed that Son would undergo surgery on his injury and he missed Sunday's defeat to Liverpool, with Conte confirming ahead of the match he would not play for Spurs again before the season breaks for the World Cup.

However, Conte had an encouraging update for Son's availability for the tournament in Qatar as he believes he will represent his nation.

"With Sonny, I sent him a message after the surgery," he said after the loss to Liverpool.

"Sonny was really, really disappointed with this situation but I hope for him to recover very well and to play in the World Cup because I was a player and I know the importance of the World Cup.

"I'm confident that he can come back quickly and play in the World Cup. He's not in hospital now, he's home."

The World Cup gets underway on November 20, but Son has a further four days recovery before South Korea begin their campaign in Group H against Uruguay.

Ben Chilwell said his "dream" was in tatters after the Chelsea left-back was knocked out of contention for England's World Cup trip.

The former Leicester City defender suffered a hamstring injury in the closing seconds of Chelsea's Champions League game against Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday.

He underwent scans on Friday, and the results showed a "significant" problem, Chelsea announced.

It comes after Chilwell recovered from a cruciate knee ligament injury to reclaim his place in the Blues team and show he could have been an asset for England.

While his club said only that 25-year-old Chilwell was "expected" to miss the tournament in Qatar, the player himself added the finality by conceding there was no chance he would make Gareth Southgate's squad.

He wrote on Twitter: "Following my ACL injury I worked so hard to make sure I was ready for the World Cup. It has always been a dream of mine.

"Unfortunately, this won't be possible following my scan results. I'll do all I can to get back playing for Chelsea ASAP. Thanks for the messages of support."

Chilwell's Chelsea and England team-mate Raheem Sterling sent a message of sympathy, posting: "Prayers up for my guy Chilly. Minor setback, major comeback."

Lionel Messi will miss Paris Saint-Germain's Ligue 1 trip to Lorient after suffering from inflammation in his Achilles tendon, but Christophe Galtier expects him to return before the World Cup. 

Messi has been in spectacular form during his second season with PSG, recording 26 goal contributions (12 goals, 14 assists) in all competitions this campaign.

With just over two weeks to go until Argentina's World Cup opener against Saudi Arabia, however, a PSG medical update sparked fears over Messi's condition by ruling him out of Sunday's match.

The club said Messi would miss that fixture as a precautionary measure before returning to training next week, and Galtier expects him to be available against Auxerre on November 13.

"Messi has inflammation in his tendon," Galtier said at Saturday's pre-match news conference. "I think he will be available for our next game, just like Presnel Kimpembe, who is still in rehabilitation.

"He should be back for the Auxerre game."

The packed pre-World Cup schedule has been heavily criticised amid a swathe of injuries to big-name players including Paul Pogba, Son Heung-min and Reece James, leading some onlookers to suggest players may play with caution ahead of the tournament.

While some coaches, including Real Madrid's Carlo Ancelotti and Tottenham's Antonio Conte, have said their players will not be thinking about the World Cup, Galtier revealed he regularly discusses such considerations with his own squad.

"We have played a lot, it is a very intense season, and that is the case for everyone, and we must not hide from that, of course, it generates fatigue," Galtier said.

"Usually, our last Champions League group game is in mid-December. Having so many weeks with Champions League games has taken up a lot of energy.

"There are no excuses, that's how it is. Of course, we are a bit tired, we are worn out. 

"Of course, every player that may be involved at the World Cup has that fear in their heads, even more so when the Champions League group stage has finished, with all those fixtures.

"You might have that in your head as a player. I often speak to the players and listen to them. We have to listen to them and they can tell us anything. 

"If someone is apprehensive, I tell them to have faith in what we put forward here in training. If a player comes to me and says they don't want to play, he won't play."

Ben Chilwell is expected to miss England's World Cup campaign after sustaining a "significant" hamstring injury, Chelsea have confirmed.

Chilwell limped out of the Blues' 2-1 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday, leaving head coach Graham Potter concerned.

Potter said the injury represented a "blow" for Chelsea, adding: "Fingers crossed, when we get it scanned it isn't as bad, it can be not as severe, but clearly we are disappointed."

Chilwell's England team-mate Mason Mount said it was "tough to watch" the left-back suffer the injury less than three weeks before the World Cup gets under way, and Gareth Southgate's fears have been realised with the news that his hamstring problem is "significant".

A statement released by Chelsea on Saturday read: "Following the injury sustained in our recent game against Dinamo Zagreb, Ben has undergone a scan on his hamstring.

"Results show that Ben has suffered a significant injury and the defender is unfortunately expected to miss the World Cup.

"Ben will now begin a rehabilitation programme with the club's medical department."

Chilwell's absence for the trip to Qatar deepens a defensive crisis for England, with fellow full-backs Reece James and Kyle Walker doubtful for the tournament.

Southgate only named two recognised left-backs in his squad for the Three Lions' most recent Nations League fixtures in September, and the likes of Bukayo Saka and Kieran Trippier may now be expected to deputise for Manchester United's Luke Shaw.

England begin their Group B campaign against Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium on November 21.

Son Heung-min has no chance of making his Tottenham return before the World Cup after suffering a fracture around his left eye, head coach Antonio Conte has declared.

The South Korea forward suffered the injury in Spurs' Champions League win over Marseille on Tuesday, leaving him requiring surgery and throwing his hopes of appearing in Qatar into doubt.

Tottenham have endured something of an injury crisis of late, with Dejan Kulusevski, Richarlison and Cristian Romero all sitting out recent matches, leaving Conte short of options with three games remaining before the World Cup.

Spurs host Liverpool on Sunday before an EFL Cup trip in midweek to face Nottingham Forest, then welcoming Leeds in the final game before the tournament in Qatar, and Conte accepts Son will not be available for those matches.

"Today [Friday], Sonny is having his surgery. It's a pity, it's a pity for him. I hope for him to recover for the World Cup," Conte told Sky Sports.

"For sure, to play the last three games with us will be impossible. This is not a lucky period for us, with Kulusevski, Richarlison and Romero out, now Sonny.

"Lucas Moura is up and down with a problem in his tendon. It's not easy, but we are trying to face the situation in the best possible way."

The scheduling of a mid-season World Cup has attracted renewed criticism after several big-name players suffered injuries in recent weeks, with the likes of Paul Pogba, Raphael Varane, Reece James and Kyle Walker among those either ruled out or doubtful for the tournament.

The situation has led to suggestions players may play with caution to avoid a similar fate, but Conte, who missed Italy's Euro 1996 campaign through injury, says that would be selfish.

Asked whether players might take it easy, Conte said: "No, honestly. I was a player, and I missed the European Championship in England because I had a serious injury in the final of the Champions League, Juventus against Ajax in 1996.

"Absolutely not. I can only speak about my players, the player wants to play in every single game, to try to win.

"I don't know or like players that think to save themselves to play a competition like this, because it means you have a selfish player."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp lamented the fact the World Cup will be held in Qatar and said the media should have done more to hold FIFA to account.

The tournament is due to begin on November 20 after Qatar won the right to stage it in controversial circumstances 12 years ago, when FIFA also announced Russia as the 2018 hosts.

Those decisions came under heavy scrutiny amid allegations of corruption within world football's governing body, which has since undergone a reshuffle following the exit of embattled former president Sepp Blatter.

Critics have cited several reasons why Qatar is not a suitable host nation, with its human rights record, treatment of migrant workers and laws against same-sex relationships of particular concern.

For its part, FIFA has urged competing nations to "focus on the football", but that will do little to assuage the fears of the tournament's most impassioned critics, which includes human rights organisations such as Amnesty International.

Klopp felt it was too late to effect any change now and suggested the media should have done more and acted sooner to prevent the situation from unfolding the way it has.

"I watched an old documentary about the whole situation when it got announced that Russia and Qatar are the places for the next two World Cups," he said on Friday.

"I think it was the first time in history that they announced two in one. And the whole situation around it, we all know how it happened and how we still let it happen and no legal thing afterward. It was still hidden everywhere. And you think, wow, how could that all happen?

"It's 12 years ago and now it's here and it's coming. It has nothing to do with Qatar, they won the World Cup and it's now it's there.

"We talk about human rights in a sense of the people who have to work there in circumstances, which are, say it nicely, difficult. So, we couldn't play the World Cup there in the summer, because of the temperature. It's now pretty hot. And there was not one stadium in Qatar or maybe one.

"They have to build stadiums and nobody thought about that. I don't think everybody mentioned it that day. That is what makes you angry. How can it not? Again, I watch it from a football point of view and I don't like the fact that now players from time to time get in a situation where they have now to send a message.

"You are all journalists; you have should have sent a message. You didn't write the most critical article about it or not about it because it's Qatar. 

"Now it's there and I'll let them play the games. Let them just play the games...and don't put Gareth Southgate constantly in a situation where he has to talk about everything. I'm not a politician who has an opinion. And he's not a politician.

"He's the manager of England, let him do that and if you want to write something else about it, then do it but by yourself without asking us and all these kinds of things. And Klopp said and Southgate said, and all these kinds of things as if it will change anything. We all, you more than I, let it happen 12 years ago."

Klopp continued to rail against the lack of intervention when the tournament was first awarded and conceded this would be "different from other World Cups".

"Do you really think that we did enough in the first place? Now making a story of it when it's happened...and getting players under pressure questioning these kinds of things," he said.

"Things are organised by other people and I don't say you let it happen. But we all let it happen. At that time, everything was on the table. Everything was on the table. It was that long ago when we really could have sorted it.

"It's not to say anything about Qatar. They won the World Cup. I can understand for whatever reason, it's fine. I want a lot of things and don't get them and carry on with it. I will watch games, of course. But yes, it is different from other World Cups."

Amnesty International has accused FIFA of brushing human rights concerns "under the carpet" after president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura called on participating nations to "focus on the football" at the World Cup.

The decision to stage the World Cup in Qatar has been criticised due to concerns over the country's human rights record, with the conditions of migrant workers and the criminalisation of homosexuality being highlighted.

Less than two weeks before the World Cup begins, Infantino and Samoura wrote to each participating nation, saying football must not be dragged "into every ideological or political battle that exists".

Amnesty, who called on FIFA to create a compensation fund for workers who suffered during the tournament's preparations in May, has now hit out at those comments.

In a media release on Friday, the human rights charity repeated the demand for compensation and lamented organisers' "astonishing" failure to address the concerns of the LGBTQ+ community.

"If Gianni Infantino wants the world to 'focus on the football', there is a simple solution: FIFA could finally start tackling the serious human rights issues, rather than brushing them under the carpet," said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty's head of economic and social justice.

"A first step would be publicly committing to the establishment of a fund to compensate migrant workers before the tournament kicks off, and ensuring that LGBT people do not face discrimination or harassment. It is astonishing they still have not done so. 

"Gianni Infantino is right to say that 'football does not exist in a vacuum'.

"Hundreds of thousands of workers have faced abuses to make this tournament possible and their rights cannot be forgotten or dismissed. 

"They deserve justice and compensation, not empty words, and time is running out."

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Paul Pogba have been confirmed to appear in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as part of a future update.

The trio of footballers were teased by developers Activision to be "suiting up" for appearances for Modern Warfare II, Warzone 2.0 and Call of Duty Mobile – displaying some teaser art in a social media post.

Characters for Pogba and Neymar have already been leaked on social media by dataminers, though Messi's look is yet to be shown. It is expected their introduction will coincide with the World Cup in Qatar.

Neymar and Messi are no strangers to the world of video games, with the Paris Saint-Germain duo introduced to PUBG earlier this year, while Neymar was featured in Fortnite back in 2021.

Modern Warfare II was officially released on October 28 and quickly broke records for the fastest start for the franchise in terms of revenue, with a further boost expected later this month when Warzone 2.0 is released.

Messi and Neymar will star for Argentina and Brazil respectively in the World Cup in Qatar, though France will be without Pogba due to injury.

Xavi believes Lionel Messi could finally get his hands on the World Cup in Qatar, tipping Argentina alongside Brazil as favourites to land the trophy.

The closest Messi has come to being a World Cup winner was when Argentina were beaten by Germany in the 2014 final.

His unprecedented seven Ballon d'Or successes underline Messi's individual greatness, but he is missing the most valued team prize of all.

Winning the Copa America with Argentina last year gave him a first major title in senior international football, with Argentina getting the better of Brazil at the Maracana in the final.

Now, at the age of 35, and in his final World Cup, Argentina captain Messi goes again, with former Barcelona team-mate Xavi strongly rating the Albiceleste's chances.

"Argentina and Brazil are a step ahead of everyone else," Xavi said on Friday.

"I see them very strong as a team, also with individual players, physical and in terms of tactics and strategy as well, they're two great teams.

"I think they're a step ahead of some of the best European teams right now. But in a World Cup you can never know. Everything can become complicated."

Xavi, a World Cup winner in 2010 with Spain and now head coach at Barcelona, added: "The European teams are very important: Spain, France, even England, have got very strong national sides, but I think Brazil and Argentina are a step stronger."

Brazil are five-time World Cup winners but have not triumphed since Ronaldo's eight goals drove them to 2002 glory, while Argentina have carried off the trophy twice, in 1978 and 1986.

Messi, surprisingly, has never scored in the knockout rounds and is four goals behind Gabriel Batistuta, Argentina's World Cup record scorer (10 goals).

European teams have dominated the World Cup in recent times, with Italy, Spain, Germany and France winning the last four editions.

Jamie Carragher has accused FIFA of putting players in a "disgusting" position by planting the Qatar World Cup slap bang in the middle of the club season.

For most players involved, the tournament will be taking place while their domestic leagues are put on hold, after it was decided Qatar would not be able to host in the usual June-July time slot, due to its climate.

It means the leading lights of the game are playing important club games just days before the opening matches of the World Cup, knowing an injury, even at a minor level, could scupper hopes of being involved.

Former Liverpool and England defender Carragher said a World Cup in November and December is "absurd" and "has succeeded in compromising every major football competition this season, including their own showpiece event".

He said there would "almost be a perverse sense of justice" if stars of the game suffer minor injury blows in the coming weeks that rule them out of the World Cup, due to the tournament's "indecent timing".

But Carragher suspects those that pushed for Qatar to host would not feel responsible, saying: "To them, elite footballers are like cattle. They get well paid and should get on with it, regardless of the psychological and physical consequences."

Carragher pointed to the example of Raphael Varane coming off in tears for Manchester United against Chelsea last month, putting his France prospects in doubt.

He wrote in the Telegraph: "It is disgusting that players are being put in such a position, and they are at their most vulnerable right now as they are expected to go full throttle in the final weeks before joining their national team.

"In normal circumstances, the squads would already be at the pre-tournament training camp, the fine-tuning under way before the opening ceremony."

Carragher added: "The decisions at the top have materially enhanced the risk of injuries. That was inevitable when the World Cup was arranged in mid-season. Everyone with even the slightest understanding of the demands upon a top-level footballer knew that."

The 44-year-old Carragher spent a decade in and around the England squad, at a time when John Terry and Rio Ferdinand were usually ahead of him in the pecking order.

He still won 38 caps and went to the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and believes the upcoming tournament taking place in Qatar casts shame on the game.

Carragher argues football's authorities made a major error by voting to give the World Cup to a country with a widely criticised human rights record. Critics have pointed to Qatar's treatment of LGBTQ+ people, and the death of many migrant workers on construction sites ahead of the tournament.

"Qatar must be the tipping point," Carragher added. "This can never happen again and there are already signs of professional players mobilising to ensure it never will. FIFA and other national bodies must be forced to act as well as listen.

"The 2022 World Cup symbolises FIFA's ultimate power. They pushed ahead, ripping up the football calendar knowing nothing could stop them."

Antonio Conte accused football's organisers of demonstrating a lack of care for players after Son Heung-min joined Tottenham's mounting injury list ahead of the World Cup.

Tottenham have the chance to move 13 points ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League table when they host the Reds on Sunday, but have been beset by fitness concerns in recent weeks.

With Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski already sidelined, Spurs suffered a huge blow on Tuesday when Son sustained a fracture around his left eye in their Champions League win at Marseille, throwing his chances of featuring in Qatar into doubt.

Defender Cristian Romero, meanwhile, has missed Tottenham's last two games with a calf problem, and will not be fit to return against Liverpool.

Speaking at Friday's pre-match news conference, Conte said the game's organisers were paying lip service to concerns over player welfare.

"It's better to start with a smile. We need to face this situation, we need to try to finish these three games in the best possible way," Conte said.

"We have these injuries; Richarlison is not available for the game, it's the same for Romero.

"About Romero, I can tell you if he has the possibility to play with one leg, he will play with one leg. I tell the fans that we have players really committed to the club. 

"Maybe Romero has an injury because he wanted to take a risk, but for sure, many teams are having big injuries, because we are playing every three days.

"We are seeing this situation is impossible for the future. Many times, I hear about the welfare of the players, but [talking] is only a polite way of showing they care. 

"They're not really worried about the welfare of the players if the schedule is this, if the most important thing is that the show must go on. 

"In the future, I don't want to hear or speak about the welfare of the players, because this is not true."

Conte offered more positive updates on the conditions of Rodrigo Bentancur and Kulusevski – the latter having not featured since September after sustaining a hamstring injury – but Lucas Moura's participation against Liverpool appears uncertain.

"Bentancur is much better and was part of a training session," Conte said. "It was the same for Kulusevski, he had half a training session with us.

"The problem is Lucas Moura is having different phases with his pain. Today it was really bad, and they told me he was really worried about this. I asked him to try to be available."

Sunday's match will represent the first time Tottenham have hosted Liverpool while above them in the Premier League table since October 2017, when they posted a 4-1 win over the Reds.

That, however, remains Spurs' most recent league victory against Liverpool, who are unbeaten in the teams' nine subsequent meetings in the competition (W6 D3).

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