Mauricio Pochettino has lauded Erik Lamela as one of the first Tottenham players to adopt his methods after the winger declared himself ready to return to competitive action.
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 and he was 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.
While Pochettino is likely to ease Lamela back in slowly over the Christmas period, Tottenham have missed the 25-year-old’s precision in the final third and willingness to harry opponents.
“I think we miss his energy, his energy is massive,” Pochettino said.
“When we arrived he was the player that was kind to do what we expected from the team because he has a massive energy and is a very energetic person.
“When you see him in the dressing room or restaurant he is always moving. He is hyperactive and that’s how he is on the pitch.
“He loves to run, loves to feel the ball in his feet. He always wants the ball: ‘give me the ball’.”
Lamela may get a run-out as a substitute against Leicester but next week’s Champions League dead rubber against Apoel Nicosia could offer the chance of a start.
Spurs, who play Watford in between on Saturday, have already qualified for the knock-out stages in first place and will likely rotate against the Cypriot side ahead of a busy Christmas period.
“I always said that he needed time to recover his feeling,” Pochettino said.
“If tomorrow he plays, what do we expect from him? To take the ball, to beat his opponents and put the ball in the top corner?
“But when it is another player who plays in another position, you expect some tackles or to play a good ball or a good pass. It is enough.
“It is completely different the position on the pitch and what we expect from them.”
Harry Winks has fallen ill and will have to be assessed ahead of the trip to Leicester while Victor Wanyama (knee) and Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) are both out.