(Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Erik Lamela is in contention to face Leicester City in the Premier League on Tuesday after more than a year out with a hip injury.
The 25-year-old Argentina international has not played since October last year and underwent surgery in April.
“Good news that Erik has stepped up and is in contention for tomorrow,” manager Mauricio Pochettino told reporters on Monday.
“After more than one year it’s so important to start to feel again the emotion to play and compete, and of course (I’m) so happy because he’s going to help the team a lot.”
Lamela, signed from AS Roma for a then club record 35 million euros ($41.8 million) in 2013, initially struggled to come to terms with the physicality of the English game.
It was not until his third season that he hit his stride, contributing 11 goals in all competitions as Tottenham ended the 2015-16 campaign in third place
Injury struck again the following season, however, and Lamela managed only nine league appearances as Tottenham finished second behind Chelsea.
Pochettino’s team are fifth in the table following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion, 13 points behind leaders Manchester City.
“It’s true that the gap now... is a great gap between Manchester City and the rest of the contenders,” he said. “The gap is massive - we will see what happens. We need to believe and try to win games.
“If we don’t win (against Leicester) – it’s difficult to be a contender.”
Full back Danny Rose returns to the squad after being dropped for the last two league matches, while Harry Winks is doubtful due to illness. Centre back Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) and midfielder Victor Wanyama (knee) are still out.
($1 = 0.8370 euros)
Writing by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond