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Tottenham needs Erik Lamela now more than ever

Tottenham Hotspur v Crvena Zvezda: Group B - UEFA Champions League

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: Erik Lamela of Tottenham during the UEFA Champions League group B match between Tottenham Hotspur and Crvena Zvezda at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on October 22, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

Offside via Getty Images

Erik Lamela has made 138 Premier League appearances for Tottenham in his career. None will be more important than the coming stretch.

Set to return from a hamstring injury that sapped him of the last two months, Erik Lamela may suddenly be the most important player on the Tottenham roster.

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The club confirmed this morning on social media that Lamela has made his return to the squad, and concurrent with manager Jose Mourinho’s comments last week, he could be in contention to play in the Boxing Day game against Brighton, and if not then, he will almost certainly return for the game two days later against Norwich City. His return could not have been more perfectly timed.

Heung-Min Son will almost certainly be suspended three games for his red card against Chelsea for kicking Antonio Rudiger in the chest, and while Jose Mourinho confirmed that the club will appeal, it’s highly unlikely to be rescinded, even if the Chelsea defender made a meal of the situation.

With Son suspended and Christian Eriksen still unable to pull himself from this season’s doldrums, Lamela becomes the focal point of the Tottenham attack. Spurs haven’t exactly been devoid of goals recently - they blew five past Burnley, scored two in the win over Wolves, plus three a-piece against Bournemouth and West Ham - but the goose egg against a mediocre Chelsea defense highlights the need for better consistency as Mourinho continues to institute his tactical structure.

Lamela was solid to begin this season before the hamstring injury left him on the outside looking in. Always known as an excellent player who struggled with consistency, he seemed to be finding his best Tottenham form as the season began. He had two goals in nine league matches before succumbing to injury, producing particularly impressive displays against Manchester City and Aston Villa to kick off the campaign. His return now is vital to a Mourinho side that is begging for creativity. Against Chelsea before the red card, Tottenham completed just five one-on-one dribbles and none in the attacking third, leading to just three total shots - none on target - before Son’s moment of idiocy.

The creativity obviously wasn’t the only issue during the match - Eric Dier was also useless in the defensive midfield, and replacing him with Giovani Lo Celso would add positivity to the lineup as Sissoko moves back into a covering role. But Lamela’s return marks a well-timed and much-needed addition to the Spurs squad, and Jose Mourinho must capitalize on it. He’s likely to.

“I need him,” Mourinho said of Lamela last week. We’ll find out just how much soon.

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