There has been plenty of speculation regarding Matt Doherty and his future in the Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur. While the defender’s game-time has been limited in the league this season, the 30-year-old is starting to earn the trust of manager Antonio Conte in north London.
Having taken over from Nuno Espirito Santo at Spurs earlier this season, Conte has been learning the size of the challenge ahead of him to bring silverware and Champions League football back to the Lilywhites. Tottenham, who are ranked outsiders to win the Premier League title this season at odds of 250/1, find themselves in a battle to secure a top-four finish this term. Conte’s side has shown some signs of positive progress in January, which has coincided with Doherty getting more minutes on the field in the Premier League.
Former club Wolverhampton Wanderers were linked with a move for Doherty at the start of the year, but that speculation has gone quiet as the defender has worked his way into Conte’s side. A strong performance in a 3-2 win over Leicester at the King Power Stadium on January 19th was a standout display for the Irishman and one that might well have gone a long way to rescuing his Spurs’ career.
While it was a disappointing 2-0 defeat later in the month, Doherty was also trusted to start in the Premier League clash against London rivals Chelsea. This once again shows the faith Conte has in Doherty, which can only be a boost for the player’s confidence and for the Republic of Ireland national side.
There had been a lot of transfer chat that Adama Traoré would be moving to Spurs, but he has since joined Barcelona and Emerson Royal’s form has been very poor recently so there is a good chance Doherty will be first choice for the rest of the season. He will though have to improve considerable if he is to remain a first choice for Spurs next season. He also needs to win over the Spurs fans, who mostly think he has been a terrible signing.
Irish stars playing regular football in the Premier League can only be a positive for Ireland coach Stephen Kenny as he takes the side through a current transitional phase. While Ireland has missed out on qualification for the World Cup in Qatar later this year, the focus is now on becoming one of the 24 teams that will feature in the 2024 European Championships in Germany.
Signs are already looking positive ahead of the next qualification campaign, with the Republic going on a run of 10 games with just one defeat in 2021. As one of the more experienced players in the Irish defence, there is plenty of responsibility on Doherty’s shoulders with the national side. The Dubliner will be one of the senior figures in the group and will be a player who can help the younger players coming through. Playing regularly for a team like Spurs, against some of the best-attacking players in world football in the Premier League, will only have a positive knock-on effect for Ireland.
Earning Conte’s trust may have taken some time but now Doherty is in the frame for starting at Spurs and Ireland will be hoping to reap the rewards further down the line.