Matt Doherty is ready to ‘run through a wall’ for Tottenham boss Antonio Conte to force his way back into the team.
The 30-year-old full-back met with the Republic of Ireland this week in hopes of playing his part in Nations League games against Scotland and Armenia in a bid to prove to the Italian that he has picked up a knee injury that may have been lost has limited him to just seven minutes of club action since April.
Doherty had established himself as a regular in Conte’s side last season before a torn media collateral tie ended his campaign, but he’s already seen enough of the new head coach to be excited about what he brings to the club.
He said: “He changed the whole mentality of the whole club. He made us feel like winners. We know he’s obviously won a lot in the past and we’re kind of trying.
“We have meetings, we have conversations that leave you feeling motivated afterwards. I remember when he first walked in we had a meeting and after that you were ready to run through a wall for him.
“Look, he’s one of the best managers ever, so let’s listen to whatever he says.”
Former Italy coach Conte, whose former employers include Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan, brings passion and animation to the job that’s evident on the sidelines, and Doherty admits there’s little difference away from the limelight.
He said: “He’s probably not as animated on the training ground, but he’s still quite animated. He just has a lot of passion for what he does and it shows in the way we play and the way we press.
“We love very much to have him as our manager and are quite happy that he is manager of the club.”
Doherty landed in Dublin with just two brief substitute appearances this season and Conte is hoping his Irish counterpart Stephen Kenny can use him far more extensively.
The defender said: “That’s exactly what he said, he wants me to come away and try to get two games in. He said in his press conference that I would be fully available after the international break.”
He added with a chuckle: “That’s the plan – if Stephen obeys him.”
Doherty’s mission this week is not just to pick up valuable minutes, but to help Ireland end a season in the Nations League that ended in defeats to Armenia and Ukraine after beating Scotland in June and a respectable draw in the Second leg started on a positive note Ukrainians are preparing for Euro 2024 qualifiers.
He said: “Many of us are at an age where there may not be many opportunities to get back into serious competition. Some of us have never been there, myself included.
“We’re pretty focused. We have a goal that we want to achieve. I think we are capable of that.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/matt-doherty-antonio-conte-italian-republic-of-ireland-stephen-kenny-b2172558.html He made us feel like winners – Matt Doherty reveals the Antonio Conte effect