Mauricio Pochettino was pleased with the performance from his Tottenham Hotspur side after their 2-0 win against Newport County on Wednesday evening and was even more delighted with the showing from Erik Lamela.
Spurs were hosting the League Two minnows at Wembley Stadium following a 1-1 draw at Rodney Parade in the original fixture for a place in the next round of the FA Cup.
Tottenham made sure there was no complacency on their behalf and opened the scoring in the 26th minute through an own goal by Dan Butler.
Spurs doubled their lead eight minutes later when Lamela netted his first goal for the club since September 2016, setting up a fifth-round clash against Rochdale.
The Argentine winger has only just recovered from serious hip problems, which had made him unavailable for more than a year and threatened to prematurely end the 25-year-old’s career.
Pochettino was delighted to see Lamela back in Tottenham action and playing well, however, he still expects the attacker to become even better and be the star that brought him to White Hart Lane in the first place.
“It’s always important to feel the net for the offensive players and for him to play 90 minutes,” the Spurs boss stated, as reported by the Daily Mail.
“He’s an important player. More than one year out is never easy to come back from and perform in the way he was before.
“But he showed because he loves football and loves to train. I think his mentality is fantastic. He will recover to his real level and more, to a new level. In tough moments you learn a lot.”
Spurs ans were equally delighted to see Lamela return to the side and get a full game under his belt, with many believing he was their standout performer on the night.
Tottenham will be hoping the Argentine will be able to carry that form with him into the next round of fixtures, where they will face Arsenal in a north London derby and Juventus in the first round knockout stage of the Champions League.
When fit and firing, Lamela was a real asset to Pochettino’s side and played a key role in the club finishing third in the 2015-16 season.
While the likes of Dele Alli and Son Heung-min have come to the fore in the South American’s absence, Tottenham’s attacking options will be made all the more menacing if the Argentine can get back to his best.
It will be interesting to see the role Lamela plays once Lucas Moura is available, with the Brazilian challenging the 25-year-old for an attacking midfield berth.
The former Roma playmaker is usually Pochettino’s first option from the bench when Tottenham are in need of offensive impetus, but competition for places has increased since the January acquisition of Moura.
One way or the other, it is clear that Lamela is a talented player and someone that Spurs should look to tie down to a new contract – he is a free agent this summer.