English Premiership

Conte not interested in selling two-goal hero Bergwijn

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Steven Bergwijn (PA)
Steven Bergwijn (PA)

After his stoppage-time heroics at Leicester, Tottenham boss Antonio Conte insists that Steven Bergwijn is an integral part of his plans.

Bergwijn has been the subject of a bid from Ajax this month, and Spurs were open to letting him go after an inconsistent two years in north London.

But the Holland international, who has struggled with injury, showed his worth at the King Power as he scored two goals in 79 seconds at the death to seal victory in a game Spurs looked destined to lose.

Conte's side had trailed 2-1 after 90 minutes, with Patson Daka and James Maddison putting the Foxes on course for the three points in their first Premier League match of 2022 before Bergwijn stepped up in dramatic style.

The Italian said his player was happy at the club and expects him to stay beyond the end of the month.

"In the past, when someone asks me about Steven Bergwijn, I was very clear," he said.

"I said that for me, he is an important player because he has characteristics that in our squad, we don't have many creative players.

"He is very good in one vs one, good to beat the man. He can play striker, he can play number 10 and for us, for me, he is an important player, and we have to try to improve, to become stronger, not to lose a player and become less strong.

"Steven is a player that if he's in good physical condition and he has good fitness he can start the games or he can come on and change the game.

"For me, I think he's an important player, and you know very well the player has to be happy, and I think the player is happy to stay with us and play for Tottenham."

The late turnaround kept Tottenham on the coattails of the top four, with games in hand, as they remain unbeaten in nine Premier League games under Conte.

Conte, who again called for January reinforcements, was proud of his side's attitude.

"I think it was an amazing game," he added. "Honestly, we didn't deserve to lose the game and also, we didn't deserve to draw because we created many chances and, in many circumstances, we were unlucky.

"To arrive in added time losing 2-1 was honestly a great, great disappointment. At the end, my players showed great resilience great desire. Don't give up. This must be our philosophy, don't give up and fight until the end.

"They showed me great desire. When we had equalised, we got the ball and we wanted to restart the game and to try to win. I think it was good for me to see this type of attitude from my players."

It was a cruel end for Leicester, who were playing their first Premier League game since December 28 and were still shorn of several key players.

Boss Brendan Rodgers said his side were naive in the way they defended in time added on.

He complained: "Very disappointing. The last 90 seconds spoiled 93 minutes of really good work.

"You know you have to defend well with the quality they have. We scored two really good goals, but we conceded a disappointing equaliser, losing the duels we should have won.

"Really, really naive from the kick-off to concede so late in the game. There were lots of really good moments, we gift-wrapped the goals, which you can't do.

"It's football. It's hugely disappointing; you look like you're going to get three points, then you don't get any.

"It hurts, but after 24 hours, you've got to move on. We can look and analyse the game, see where we need to be better, but then we move on to another opportunity.

"The players gave everything, but we made two really poor decisions, and it cost us."

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