Pochettino backs Lamela to reach 'a higher level than before'
Mauricio Pochettino has backed Erik Lamela to reach "a higher level" than before his injury problems following his performance against Newport County.
The winger scored his first Tottenham goal in 504 days as his side won 2-0 in Wednesday's FA Cup fourth-round replay at Wembley.
The 25-year-old missed the majority of last season with a hip problem and did not return to action this term until November, although he has played in each of Spurs' last 13 Premier League games.
Pochettino hopes the former Roma star can hit new heights after coming through the difficulties of a lengthy absence.
"He loves football. He loves to train. In a tough moment, you learn a lot," he told a news conference. "He can reach a higher level than before because he's more experienced.
"It's always important to feel the net for offensive players and for him to play 90 minutes. I think it's a very important feeling for him. It's important because he's an important player."
12 - Tottenham are unbeaten in their last 12 home games at Wembley (W10 D2), scoring 32 goals and conceding just six. Settled. pic.twitter.com/QarQE4k24c-- OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 7, 2018
Lamela's display contrasted to that of Fernando Llorente, who missed two clear-cut chances in the second half to extend Spurs' lead.
The 32-year-old has only managed to score twice since joining the club from Swansea City last August but Pochettino gave a wry response when asked if the striker's form has him concerned.
"Yes, I am worried, so worried, so worried!" Pochettino smiled.
"I think today is the FA Cup. If you don't win, you should be worried about the performance.
"It was a great opportunity for Fernando to score and he missed. He had the chance to score but you know now we have 24 players and it will be tough to find a place in the starting XI for everyone.
"Who is playing more? Who is playing less? Twenty-four players all trying to get a start in every single game. I think it's a very good thing for us. We are going to increase our level and in that very busy period we need all to focus on trying to give their best."