Tottenham boss Sherwood dismisses rumor of Lamela return
There is "no chance" of club-record signing Erik Lamela featuring for Tottenham before the season is out, according to head coach Tim Sherwood.
Billed as Spurs’ ready-made replacement for Gareth Bale, the 22-year-old’s summer arrival for £30million ($50.45million) was greeted by excitement at White Hart Lane.
However, Lamela has so far been a huge disappointment in north London, managing just three Barclays Premier League starts in a debut season blighted by injury.
A report on Thursday suggested the Argentina international will return to training next week after his latest complaint and that head coach Sherwood is under pressure to give him a run-out before the season is out.
The Spurs head coach recently stated that Lamela would not be available this season due to a back complaint and was bemused by the latest speculation.
"There’ll be no chance Erik’s fit," Sherwood said. "I read in the paper, or someone told me, that the hierarchy here are asking for him to get more opportunities.
"Chance would be a fine thing, he’s injured."
That news will no doubt frustrate Tottenham supporters, who have not seen Lamelain action since he came off the bench against Stoke on December 29.
Some fans have poked fun at the situation by drawing up missing-pet posters of a player Sherwood finds hard to make a judgement on.
"You know what, I haven’t seen enough of him," he said. "He’s never been fit.
"I think he was fit for about three weeks while I was in charge, and then he’s been out injured.
"That’s still an unknown quantity as far as I’m concerned. I’ve assessed the rest of the squad and I’ve got my ideas on who’s capable and probably who’s not, and Erik the jury’s still out on him because I haven’t seen enough of him so he’s been very unfortunate.
"I think the benefit he will have is he’ll be settled so he’ll improve from that but as regards settling into the Premier League I think the jury’s still out because he’s not played enough football."
Some have already made their mind up, though, brandishing Lamela one of the worst buys of recent times.
"I think it is unfair because obviously he has not been fit so it has been hard to judge," Sherwood said of the ‘flop’ tag.
"The price isn’t his fault. He comes with a huge price tag but it is not Erik that sets that price."
Lamela is not the only big-money summer acquisition on the sidelines right now, with Roberto Soldado and Etienne Capoue also out through injury.
The trio will miss Saturday’s match against relegation-threatened Fulham, as will defenders Jan Vertonghen, Kyle Walker and Michael Dawson.
Mousa Dembele is the only positive news on the injury front and is set to return from a hip complaint in a match that appears to mean much more to his former club.
Fulham are searching for a third successive win as the look to pull off a miraculous escape, whereas the best Spurs can hope for is qualifying – or some might argue missing out on – the Europa League.
"It’s important that we concentrate on the job in hand," Sherwood said.
"The boys get paid a lot of money to play for Tottenham and we owe it to the fans that will turn out and watch them to keep focused on the game.
"If I see they are not focused on the game, then they don’t play."