Erik Lamela is nearly back to his best, according to Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, who says the winger’s recovery justifies his caution with players returning from injury.
Pochettino has been at odds with Toby Alderweireld over the centre-back’s readiness to play following a three- month layoff with a hamstring injury, while he has also been cautious with Danny Rose, Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks after lengthy spells out and Lamela did not train fully for over a year due to chronic hip pain but he returned to the first team in October and has since made himself an important part of Pochettino’s squad.
Lamela started the Champions League round-of-16 first leg against Juventus and he is expected to cover the injured Harry Kane in the next few games after replacing the striker at Bournemouth on Sunday.
“He’s doing fantastic in the last few months but we need to be careful with him,” Pochettino said of Lamela. “After one year of injury, we cannot force him to do something. That is the problem.
“We have information about every single player and we’re professional and we try to look after everyone. But it’s so difficult to translate that to our fans. I understand polemics and controversy about different things — that’s normal — but in the way that we manage every single player, and in this case Lamela, it’s to help them play at their best again.
He added: “For me, Lamela is still not at his best but I think he’s very close. And I think the way that we are managing him is fantastic.”
The article by ESPN goes on to describe how when trailing 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium, Pochettino called for Lamela — rather than striker Fernando Llorente or January signing Lucas Moura — to replace Kane when our top scorer hobbled off with ankle ligament damage, which will sideline him until next month.
Within a sixty seconds of his arrival Lamela helped to create our equaliser and he was also involved in our third goal in an impressive 4-1 win.”He doesn’t need to impress me because I know him very well and we know very well what we can expect from him,”:Pochettino added.
“I am so happy and the other day after Harry Kane’s injury he was fantastic on the pitch. I think what he started to show against Juventus was fantastic too and Rochdale [in the FA Cup fifth-round replay], and every time he has had the possibility to play he’s shown his quality.
He added: “He’s going to be a player that is going to help in the last period of the season in the FA Cup and the Premier League.”
Pochettino admitted that Lamela was “suffering” during his time on the sidelines but he says the 26-year-old is now in a good place mentally and physically, and more mature since the birth of his first child in November.
Pochettino went on to say: “There are situations where afterwards you feel sad or little down — when you cannot compete or when you’re injured. But, for me, all the players are strong. I think Lamela, now, is in very good form, physically and mentally. And it helps that he is involved in nearly every game. “Of course, Coco is more mature now that he is dad. It’s different, and that helps you to be more mature. When I was 22 and I had my first son, it completely changed my vision about life and helps you to be more mature.”
Have something to tell us about this article?