Erik Lamela is in line to make his Tottenham Hotspur return after over a year on the sidelines through injury, manager Mauricio Pochettino revealed on Monday.
Argentinian winger Lamela, a £30 million ($40.1 million, 33.6 million euros) signing from Roma in August 2013, last played in October 2016, having since undergone surgery on both hips.
He returned to training at the beginning of last month and is expected to be on the bench for Spurs’ trip to Leicester City in the Premier League on Tuesday.
“It is very good news because he is in contention for tomorrow,” Pochettino told a press conference at Spurs’ north London training centre.
“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 period has been less than straightforward, with the 25-year-old even spending time undergoing treatment at former club Roma in January.
He also had to rush to Argentina last December after his brother was hospitalized.
Despite Lamela’s long absence, Pochettino says he never lost faith in his compatriot’s chances of making a full recovery.
“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.
“After a year it’s difficult for a player to be fit. It’s not easy and the expectations need to be low.
“Maybe similar to Danny Rose, after 10 months or a year it’s similar. You need to provide them the time to be fit.
“There’s no pressure on him, only to feel he’s a player in the competition again.”
Midfielder Harry Winks is a doubt for the trip to Leicester due to illness, while center-back Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) and midfield enforcer Victor Wanyama (knee) are both out.
Spurs have fallen 13 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City after one win in their last four league games, but Pochettino said it was important not to lose sight of how far his team have come.
“I think if you remember everything that happened three years ago, no-one would believe we would be talking about finishing first, beating (Borussia) Dortmund and Real Madrid and finishing first in the Champions League (group) and having the capacity in the last three seasons to fight for the top four and the Premier League,” he 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.”