Soccer-Top-four finish difficult for Spurs, says Conte

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Chelsea - Antonio Conte Press Conference - Chelsea FC Training Ground, London, Britain - March 29, 2018 Chelsea manager Antonio Conte during the press conference Action Images via Reuters/Tony O'Brien

(Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte said it will be difficult for his team to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season, adding that recent wins were not enough and the squad has room for improvement.

Arsenal's request to postpone the north London derby last weekend gave Conte and his players an additional week to prepare for Wednesday's clash at Leicester City, where they clinched a remarkable 3-2 victory in stoppage time.

Spurs have won both their league ties so far this year and moved up to fifth in the standings on 36 points after 19 matches.

"Don't forget that we won against Watford in the last minute, we won against Leicester in the last minute..." Conte told reporters ahead of Sunday's trip to Chelsea.

"It is a pleasure to see my team fight until the end but if you cut four points off our table then maybe you don't ask me this question," he responded to a suggestion that Tottenham were up for at least a top-four finish this season.

"It is important to be realistic and understand it will be very difficult for us this season. I don't change my idea because of some positive results... We need to improve a lot."

Conte showed optimism when asked about Hugo Lloris, Tottenham captain since 2014, and his freshly-signed 2-1/2 year contract.

"It's important that our captain is not only here for one year, but two years. He's a point of reference for the whole club and also for me," Conte said.

Lloris is only five games short of making 400 appearances for Tottenham. However, the 2018 World Cup-winning France goalkeeper remains without a trophy in almost a decade at Spurs.

"I think it is important for every club to win trophies and at the same time you have to understand if you are ready to win," Conte said when asked whether he could be the man to change Lloris' club fate.

"One team wins and the others seek to win. If you win you write the history and if you don't win, you played for a team that don't write the history."

Spurs take on Chelsea for the third time this month, after losing both legs of the League Cup semi-final against their London rivals.

(Reporting by Anita Kobylinska in Gdansk; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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