Eric Dier was expelled from the North London exchange

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Antonio Conte has revealed Tottenham defender Eric Dier will not be in shape to play in the north London derby against Arsenal on Sunday.

The English national team player has not played since the New Year’s victory over Watford due to a muscle problem, leaving Davinson Sanchez and Ben Davies as senior defenders in Conte’s third.

“He [Dier] suffers from a small muscle problem and he is not suitable for the match against Arsenal, Conte said at his press conference before the match.

“It is a pity that we have to play these three matches before the international break and then restore these important players.

“It’s important to restore these important players, that’s life for us, these players.”

Conte also revealed that Spurs are in control of a potential Covid-19 case, although the player’s identity was not revealed.

He added: “As you very well know, we have many injuries and then there is also the Covid situation that you have to check every day and sometimes you will find a surprise.

“We are preparing for the match against Arsenal. All teams are suffering at the moment.”

Spurs are also without summer signing Cristian Romero, who has been absent since November, while Son Heung-min is away and Sergio Reguilon is doubtful. However, their injuries and accessibility problems pale in comparison to Arsenal.

The Gunners, who secured a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final with Liverpool on Thursday, are already without the Africa Cup of Nations quartet Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe and Mohamed Elneny, while Granit Xhaka is suspended and Martin Odegaard is ruled out of having tested positive for Covid-19.

They doubt right-backs Takehiro Tomiyasu and Cedric Soares as well, which means Calum Chambers can start, while young stars Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe have shocks and can miss the match.

Sunday’s match is a real six-pointer in the race for Champions League football. Arsenal are fifth – two points from West Ham in fourth place – with Tottenham two points behind in sixth place. However, the Spurs have two games in hand against their bitter rivals.

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