Tottenham Hotspur boss Antonio Conte believes Steven Bergwijn has benefitted from the recent Covid-19 outbreak in his squad.
The Holland international scored his first goal of the season in Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over West Ham in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals and also provided the assist for Lucas Moura’s winner.
Bergwijn has struggled for form and consistency since he moved to Spurs in 2020 but the 24-year-old was one of the few players at the club not to contract coronavirus recently and looks to have used his time on the training pitch wisely under the Italian manager.
“I think these two weeks that we had many players with Covid helped me and helped Steven Bergwijn to understand very well what I want from him and what I want from the other 11 players we had in training,” Conte explained.
“Don’t forget, for many days we trained with only 11 or 12 players. On one hand, it was very difficult. On the other hand, we exploited this situation to improve the players.
“We prepared to play the games with these players. For sure, Steven should have played against Leicester, against Brighton, the games that were postponed.
“With him and also other players, we tried to exploit the period when we were only 11 or 12 players, to improve these players.
“Now Steven is a player totally involved into what I want, into what I ask from my players. Don’t forget that I like to have a plan and I like to give options to my players.
“Every single player has to know what I want during the game offensively and defensively.”
Three goals in five first-half minutes settled the London derby, with Bergwijn’s opener cancelled out by Jarrod Bowen before Moura slotted home what turned out to be the decisive goal in the 34th minute.
I think these two weeks that we had many players with Covid helped me and helped Steven Bergwijn to understand very well what I want from him.
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte
It was the Brazilian’s fourth effort of the campaign and he was described as one of the “best players” in the Tottenham squad by his manager post-match.
Moura has picked up runners-up medals in the Carabao Cup and Champions League during his time at Spurs and is determined to help the club end their trophy drought which dates back to 2008.
“Last season we had the chance to get this trophy but in the final we didn’t play very well,” he said, with a two-legged semi-final coming up with Chelsea in January.
“Now is another opportunity, another season, another manager, another squad and I think we’re better now. A trophy is my objective. I think we deserve it but we need to show it on the pitch.”
Declan Rice could not hide his disappointment after West Ham saw their fine run in the Carabao Cup end with a narrow loss to their rivals.
After beating the two Manchester clubs earlier in the competition, the Hammers were unable to add to Bowen’s low effort at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
“We want to win a trophy and we’ve just come up short again, which is very disappointing, but I feel like there are a lot of positives to take,” England midfielder Rice told the official club website.
“Obviously we were playing Spurs and all the lads were up for it.
“I was buzzing and rallied up, I was ready to go out there and give everything like all the lads were, but to come up short again is gutting and hard to take.”