Matt Doherty plans to stay and fight for his place at Tottenham despite Antonio Conte being poised to bring in right wing-back Djed Spence.
Spence appears set to become Conte’s sixth signing of the transfer window, joining Yves Bissouma, Ivan Perisic, Fraser Forster, Richarlison and loanee Clement Lenglet.
Reports suggest the England Under-21 international will move in a transfer worth in the region of £20million, including add-ons, from Middlesbrough after impressing for Nottingham Forest in a loan spell.
Spence competed for the most duels (508) in the 2021-22 Championship season among defenders, while also attempting (187) and completing (76) the most dribbles in the same group.
An effective presence at both ends of the pitch, Spence helped Forest return to the highest level of English football for the first time in 23 years, and will likely face Steve Cooper’s side with Spurs next term.
The 21-year-old will aim to displace Conte’s other options at the position, Doherty and Emerson Royal, but the Republic of Ireland international will not give up his first-team spot without a fight.
“There’s a lot of competition and that’s never a bad thing, it brings everybody’s standards up, makes everybody train properly, train hard and that’s what you want,” Doherty told reporters.
“You want to earn your position on merit. You don’t want it handed to you. We’re all competitors and that’s what we want. We want to fight against each other and get a place.”
Asked specifically about his future at the Premier League club, Doherty responded: “Of course. I haven’t been told otherwise. My plan is to stay and fight for my place.
“We’ve got an exciting season ahead. Why would I want to go anywhere else?”
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Conte will require a larger squad to rotate across the English top flight and Champions League in the 2022-23 season, with Doherty, Emerson and Spence likely to be utilised in different competitions.
Doherty insists his focus for now, though, revolves around building up his fitness after impressing in the second half of the season following Conte’s arrival at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
“I was in for a lot of the summer because I had to rehab my knee,” he added. “For the first two weeks when everybody left I was in doing rehab with weekends off, out on the pitch doing ball work and fitness work.
“I didn’t have a choice. I had to be in. I wanted to be back for pre-season ready to go. I had a week away and then came in for a day.
“I had three weeks off in a row but I came in during the second week for a couple of days and in again during the third week for a couple of days. I made sure I was ready to go.
“You can only feel in so much good shape once you start all that running but I feel OK. I might need to give my knee a little bit of time, that’s normal.
“The more you train and the more reps you get it will go away. I can see that. Sometimes it will bother me and the longer the week goes it will ease off.”