The full story of Oliver Skipp’s painful injury and why Conte is so happy to have him back
There is light at the end of the tunnel for Oliver Skipp when it comes to his troublesome pelvic issue.
Injuries or ailments are always frustrating for footballers but perhaps the 21-year-old’s problem is worse as he is in a rather sensitive part of the body. The problem for the Spurs midfielder came with his symphysis pubis, a joint in the pelvic region. It was painful and it’s not his fault, just something that can happen from a heavy workload.
It has certainly happened in the last 18 months or so. Last season the then 20-year-old Skipp started 34 of Norwich’s 36 appearances as a vital part of their league-winning side and he played almost every minute for them.
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It was his first season as an all-around professional in the first team game, then he came back to Spurs, having developed by leaps and bounds, and Nuno Espirito Santo and then Antonio Conte used him a lot, achieving both how important he was becoming. to the team with his energy and box-to-box ability.
In total, Skipp has made 85 appearances so far in just two seasons – 75 for his two clubs and 10 for England U21s. That’s a lot for a young midfielder whose only regular football had been years before at academy level against other youngsters.
The only real cure for his problem was rest and that was the most frustrating thing for him and for Conte.
Every time he felt like he was going somewhere there was a setback, including an infection, and he felt pain again, bringing more frustrated comments from Conte during his press conferences, mostly at the expense of the medical service.
Now, after two months, Skipp is getting there. football.london reported on Thursday that he was now training alone outside with sports science staff and the situation was improving. He is expected to be back in action in a fortnight, possibly in time for the Brighton game this month.
Conte confirmed the good news on Friday during his press conference with the news that he hoped Skipp and Ryan Sessegnon would be back training with the group next week.
“Good news for Oliver, for Skippy and Sessegnon. They are very, very close to being back with the team,” he said.
“They are improving a lot. They have important training sessions. Not with the team apart, but I hope next week to have both players with the team.”
Skipp is expected to be a brace as a bumper new contract with Spurs is set to close soon.
For a youngster labeled a future Tottenham captain by Jose Mourinho and someone Conte calls an ‘important player’ who can go to the top, the path ahead for Skipp is very bright if he can avoid further frustrations over the wounds.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have a soft spot for Skippy, as his teammates call him, because he started becoming an academy star shortly after I started reporting on the Spurs.
As my job allowed me to cover, certainly before the pandemic, a large number of U23 and U18 games as well as U19 UEFA Youth League games – during Spurs’ Champions League years – I saw a lot of Skipp as a young player in the academy and I was lucky enough to see him grow.
You could tell from the start that he was a cut above, sometimes dominating the midfield at 16 against much older opponents.
He was also very down to earth off the pitch in a sport where some young players can quickly believe their own hype before they’ve even played a senior game thanks to the money paid to them.
I remember watching Skipp from the press area after a UEFA Youth League game in Dortmund coming out of the dressing room and walking towards the team coach he broke away from the line of players.
It was because he spotted a kitty lady struggling with some big bags. He approached and helped her take them to their destination. It was a very small thing overall, but it showed his character and why if anyone has a chance to make it to the top, it’s Skippy, hardworking and focused.
He’s growing on and off the pitch, he’s taking on a lot of volume and growing as a character. I managed to land the first long ‘sitting’ interview with the young midfielder when he broke into Mauricio Pochettino’s squad after an impressive pre-season tour of the United States and I also interviewed since.
At first he was a nervous teenager, speaking only a few quick sentences to answer questions and afraid to say the wrong thing. Today, he has more confidence in himself and also in his place within the group. He may be young, but he’s not afraid to make his voice heard.
When he returns this month, it will be fascinating to watch the midfield competition unfold. Rodrigo Bentancur has settled in quickly at Spurs and looks like a great addition to the squad. In turn, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg returns to form alongside the Uruguayan.
Skipp will keep them both on their toes because the moment their form drops, Conte will want to quickly throw him into a match to pick up the tempo.
The best trait of the young midfielder is that he can quickly break up an opposition attack and move Spurs in the opposite direction by passing the ball to the attacking players. It’s an ability that fits Conte’s requirements perfectly.
Then there’s Harry Winks, who will likely be the fourth choice in midfield with the return of Skipp and the arrival of Bentancur. That could see him leave this summer for more regular football, which means another arrival in midfield.
For Skipp, he will only take care of finding his teammates and then returning to the field. Fans have quickly embraced the young midfielder and he has the potential to give them another to be proud of.