Antonio Conte claims he was joking about fearing the sack at Tottenham after Champions League…

Antonio Conte says he does not expect to be sacked by Tottenham before the end of the season.

The Italian claimed that was a possibility after Spurs were knocked out of the Champions League by AC Milan last week.

Conte’s contract as Tottenham manager expires at the end of the season and the club are already sounding out potential successors.

It has reached the stage that few are expecting the former Chelsea boss to stay and some – including MailSport pundit Chris Sutton – are calling for him to leave straight away. ‘It’s better for all concerned if he goes now,’ Sutton said.

Conte, whose side sits in fourth place in the Premier League table ahead of Saturday’s trip to Southampton, insisted his sack talk had not been serious however.

He said: ‘This was a provocation, you understand, about my future: a joke – “una battuta”. I said that you don’t know what happens because maybe the club can sack me.

‘But I don’t think the club is thinking this. The club sees everyday what me and my staff, we are doing for this club.’

Conte added that he had received no official confirmation that this was the case however.

He said: ‘You know football is really strange. you don’t know what happens tomorrow. But if you continue to ask me if I sign a new contract, it means that maybe the club appreciates the work that we doing, in this one year and a half.’

Harry Kane’s Spurs future also remains unsettled as the England captain will have one year remaining on his current deal at the end of the season.

‘For sure, the club wants to involve Harry Kane for the rest of his career, in my opinion,’ Conte said. ‘But then you know football, sometimes it’s unpredictable. It is not my task to make a decision. This is a decision for the club and for Harry.’