Pochettino could turn to Lamela after he ‘stepped up’

Erik Lamela has told Mauricio Pochettino he is finally ready to make his Tottenham return after more than a year out through injury.

Lamela, who joined Spurs four years ago for a then club record £30million, has undergone operations on each of his hips and not played since October 25, 2016.

But after beginning training early last month, Lamela gave Pochettino the green light on Monday and is now expected to be on the bench for Tuesday’s game against Leicester.

“It is very good news because he is in contention for tomorrow,” Pochettino said.

“It’s because after the training today he felt good and said, ‘Ok I am ready to move on and be available if you want’.”

Lamela’s recovery has proven complex, with the 25-year-old even allowed to take treatment from his former club Roma in January.

There was also a traumatic period in December last year when Lamela rushed back to his native Argentina to attend to his brother, who had been unexpectedly taken into hospital.

Pochettino is likely to ease Lamela back in slowly over the Christmas period but he insists he never had any doubts that he would play again.

“No, never doubts. We trusted in our medical staff and him that he’s a very competitive player, always focused on his recovery,” Pochettino said.

“It’s true that after a year it’s difficult for a player to be fit and find the feelings in the competition when it’s an injury for long term. Always it’s not easy and the expectations need to be low.

“Maybe similar to Danny Rose, after 10 months or year it’s similar. You need to provide them the time to be fit and feel again the competition.

“With Lamela there’s no pressure on him, only to feel he’s a player in the competition again.”

Tottenham’s title challenge has been derailed by a disappointing run that has included only one win in their last four Premier League matches.

They now sit 13 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City but Pochettino called for perspective.

“I think if you remember everything that happened three years ago, no-one would believe we would be talking about finishing first, beating Dortmund and Real Madrid and finishing first in the Champions League and have the capacity in the last three seasons to fight for the top four and the Premier League,” Pochettino said.

“We were talking about in the next three or four seasons arriving to the new stadium and trying to reduce the gap to the top four, and now we are involved in the battle for the best competitions in the world.”

Harry Winks has fallen ill and will have to be assessed ahead of the trip to the King Power Stadium while Victor Wanyama (knee) and Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) are both out.