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Tottenham boss Antonio Conte has warned that it will be difficult to win the FA Cup this season, saying it is easier to win trophies in Europe than in England.
Spurs are hoping this is the year they finally end their 14-year trophy drought, but have a long way to go again. They take on Manchester United’s conquerors Middlesbrough in Tuesday night’s fourth round, and with Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool still in their hats, they would not be among the favorites to lift the silverware in May.
However, Conte has a good record in the FA Cup after being in the final in both his seasons as Chelsea manager, where he won one and lost one.
He’s aiming for a hat trick with Spurs, but he knows what’s in store.
“Winning trophies in England, as I said before, is very difficult. At the moment, it is easier to win in Europe than England,” he said.
“When you start playing the quarter-finals, semi-finals, finals, you have to fight against a top team that could probably play the final of the Champions League.
“It is important to continue to go through in this trophy. This happened in the Carabao Cup, do not underestimate the semi-final that Tottenham reached.
“Because the final was Chelsea against Liverpool, so reaching the semi-final at this moment was a good result for Tottenham.
“This should definitely be a boost to push us to improve the level, to be competitive, to try to meet a trophy as soon as possible.
“Because if I talk about the future, you do not understand the time we need. It will definitely be important to improve the level and fight to win a trophy. But I repeat that winning a trophy now is very difficult.
“It is definitely a fantastic competition and in the past I was lucky to reach the final two years in a row. I would like to continue this tradition for Tottenham, especially for my players, especially the fans and the club. Not just for me.
“But you know this trophy is not simple or easy and tomorrow we have to face Middlesbrough, a tough match. Middlesbrough eliminated Manchester United from this competition.”
The Spurs will choose a strong side at Riverside, not that they have many options as they have a thin squad and named four academy players on the bench during the 4-0 win in Leeds on Saturday.
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Narrative: Scarlett has great potential
One of them was 17 years old Dane Scarlettwho came on the field in the last five minutes.
And Conte says he has a great future.
“I’m not giving a gift to my players even if you’re 17 years old,” he said. “I think the Dane works hard, he is a really good prospect from the academy. At this moment definitely the best view from the academy.
“The Dane must continue to work very hard. We have to find the best solution in training because he used to have many, many injuries.
“But he has great potential, he is only 17. He must continue to improve, grow, understand and think about football.
“It was a signal to him because he deserved this opportunity to play a few minutes. I’m not giving a gift to anyone. They should deserve this opportunity.”
None of the Spurs’ injured players return to Boro, with Oliver Skipp (snout), Japhet Tanganga (knee), Rodrigo Bentancur (ankle) and Lucas Moura (knock).
READ MORE: Antonio Conte reveals ‘wounded’ over the firing of Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa