Matt Doherty is ready to ‘cross a wall’ for Tottenham boss Antonio Conte as he tries to force his return to the team.
The 30-year-old winger met the Republic of Ireland this week hoping to play their part in Nations League matches against Scotland and Armenia to prove to the Italian that he is on the knee injury that limited him to just seven years. minutes of club action since April.
Doherty had established himself as a regular in Conte’s side last season before a ruptured medial collateral ligament 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 kind of try to do that.
“We have meetings, we have discussions where afterwards you feel motivated. I remember when he first came, we had a meeting and after that you were ready to run through a wall for him.
“Listen, he’s one of the best managers ever, so whatever he says, we listen to him.”
Former Italy boss Conte, who counts Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan among his former employers, brings a passion and drive to the job that is evident on the sidelines, and Doherty admits he is little different from the limelight.
He said: “He’s probably not as lively on the training ground, but he’s still quite lively. He just has a lot of passion for what he does and that comes back to us in the way we play and which we press.
“We love having him as a coach and we are rather lucky to have him as the club’s coach.”
Doherty has landed in Dublin with just two brief substitute appearances to his name so far this season and with Conte hoping his Irish counterpart Stephen Kenny can use him much more extensively.
The defender said: “That’s exactly what he said, he wants me back and try to play two games. He said in his press conference that I will be fully available after the international break. for selection.”
He added with a smile: “That’s the plan – if Stephen obeys him.”
Doherty’s mission this week is not just to get valuable minutes under his belt, but to help Ireland end a Nations League campaign that began with defeats to Armenia and Ukraine on a high after June’s win over Scotland and a creditable second leg draw with the Ukrainians as they prepare for the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.
He said: “A lot of us are at that age where maybe there aren’t many more opportunities to get back into serious competition. Some of us have never been there, including myself.
“We are quite focused. We have a goal that we want to achieve. I think we are capable.