Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has praised the impact of Matt Doherty in recent matches.
The Republic of Ireland full-back was a peripheral figure when the Italian first arrived at the North London club, but has started four of their last seven Premier League games, and scored the opener in last weekend's 4-0 win at Leeds.
Speaking ahead of Spurs' FA Cup 5th round trip to Middlesbrough on Tuesday night, Conte hailed Doherty's increased roll in the side.
"He’s another player improving, working very hard and improved a lot," said the Spurs boss, "He’s a serious guy. I like him, if he plays or doesn’t play, his commitment and his attitude is always at the top.
"I think he’s improving a lot and he understood that in this squad he can have an important part for this team.
"With Emerson [Royal] on the right but also Doherty on the left he can give me a good alternative. I was pleased to see him perform at this level. It was the same for [Ryan] Sessegnon.
"Now we have recovered Sergio Reguilon and also Emerson. We’re improving, we’re working hard.
Matt Doherty opening his account. 💪 pic.twitter.com/M24JofEbO0
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 26, 2022
"We have to use the defeats to learn, to continue to improve in many aspects, not only football aspects but also character and spirit and desire to be strong."
Conte's aiming to become the first manager to win the FA Cup with different clubs since Billy Walker in 1960.
While laughing off suggestions he's desperate to lift the trophy this season, Conte said Middlesbrough will prove tough opponents at the Riverside, given their elimination of Manchester United in round 4.
"To win trophies in England, as I said before, is very difficult," said the Tottenham boss, "At the moment it’s easier to win in Europe than England.
"When you start to play the quarter-final, semi-final, final, you have to fight against a top, top team that probably could play the final of the Champions League. It’s important to continue to go through in this trophy.
"This happened in the Carabao, don’t underestimate the semi-final Tottenham reached, because the final was Chelsea v Liverpool, so to reach the semi-final in this moment was a good result for Tottenham.
"For sure this has to be a boost to push us to improve the level, to be competitive, to try to meet a trophy as soon as possible, because if I speak about the future, you don’t understand the time that we need.
"For sure it’ll be important to improve the level and fight to win a trophy. But I repeat, to win a trophy now is very difficult."