Pochettino hails ‘important’ Lamela after 2-0 win over Newport County

Manager believes winger will achieve his real level after gaining experience

Reuters February 08, 2018

LONDON: Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino backed Erik Lamela to hit top form after the midfielder scored his first goal since returning from a hip injury that kept him out for over a year in Wednesday's 2-0 FA Cup win over Newport County.

The Argentina international, who last found the net for his club in September 2016, struck the second goal after defender Dan Butler's own goal to help Tottenham beat fourth-tier Newport in their fourth round replay at Wembley.

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"I think he is going to find it easy to recover his real level, or improve because he is more mature and you learn in a tough moment a lot. No doubt," said Pochettino after the game. "Always it's important to feel the net for offensive players and for him to play 90 minutes. It's an important feeling for him. It's important because he's an important player.”

Lamela underwent hip surgery last April before returning to the team in November. He has made 13 league appearances this season and two more in the FA Cup.

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The 25-year-old played the full 90 minutes against Newport, only the second time he has done so this season.

"Of course it was a massive problem, more than one year out. It's never easy to come back and perform as he was before,” added Pochettino. “But he loves football, and he loves to train. I think his mentality is fantastic."

Tottenham are fifth in the Premier League with 49 points from 26 matches and take on sixth-placed north London rivals Arsenal on Saturday.