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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Dan Kilpatrick

Premier League to nominate Antonio Conte for manager of the month after Cristian Stellini wins

The Premier League is set to name Tottenham's Antonio Conte on the shortlist for February's manager of the month, despite the Italian overseeing just one match - a 4-1 defeat to Leicester.

Conte's assistant Cristian Stellini was in the dugout for the wins over Manchester City, West Ham and Chelsea this month - maintaining his 100 percent record from four matches in charge - while the head coach recuperates from gallbladder surgery at home in Italy.

Conte has remained in constant contact with Stellini and the rest of the coaching staff, and maintained a leading say in picking the team and even making in-game decisions.

The Premier League is therefore not planning to make any provisions for Conte's absence when it names February's five-man shortlist, with Stellini not set to be mentioned when the nominees are announced this week.

Antonio Conte and Cristian Stellini at Leicester (REUTERS)

Conte is likely to share the award with Stellini if he does win.

Despite the Leicester reverse, Spurs are joint top of the form table with nine points from the month, although Manchester United's Erik ten Hag is favourite for the award with three wins from three.

In January 2017, Conte became the first ever manager to win the award in three consecutive months amid a run of 13 straight victories in charge of Chelsea but Manchester City's Pep Guardiola has since won four in a row. Conte is yet to win the award with Spurs.

Stellini is set to lead the team again in tomorrow's FA Cup fifth-round tie at Sheffield United but has said he expects Conte to return this week, raising the possibility that he could be back in the dugout for the visit to Wolves on Saturday.

Stellini believes the team has matured in Conte's absence.

"It is like a teenager that has to become mature," he said after the 2-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday. "The team react in this way and they take a lot of responsibility. Everyone, players that play and players that are sometimes not playing. This is why I am glad to stay here and to keep the chair of Antonio warm."

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