Why Tottenham favourite risks being frozen out of starting XI
COMMENT By Dominic Toner
Tottenham midfielder Erik Lamela could find it extremely difficult to force his way back into the starting line-up when he returns to full fitness.
The 24-year-old has not featured since the goalless draw with Bournemouth in October and has been recovering from a hip injury.
He is regarded as a big favourite by club’s supporters, but the winger may now find it difficult to get back into Mauricio Pochettino’s starting XI.
Lamela was in decent form this season before his injury setback, scoring two goals and supplying seven assists in his 14 appearances across all competitions.
However, Spurs have stumbled across a new formation in recent weeks and it’s difficult to see where Lamela could fit into the picture.
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The north London club have switched to a 3-4-3 formation recently and it was highly effective in Wednesday night’s 2-0 home win against Chelsea.
They moved up to third in the league table courtesy of two headed Dele Alli goals and are now just seven points adrift of leaders Chelsea in the race for the title.
Lamela usually operates in a wide position, but his preferred position doesn’t exist in the 3-4-3 formation.
The Argentinian would be unable to compete for the wing-back position as he does not have the discipline, but England parking Kyle Walker and Danny Rose have a firm grip on the position regardless.
Lamela would have to slot into an attacking position filled by either Christian Eriksen or Dele Alli, with striker Harry Kane leading the line.
England ace Alli has scored seven goals in his last four games and is set for a huge future at White Hart Lane, while Eriksen has been in great form also and been directly involved in 15 goals in 26 appearances.
Lamela may have racked up 121 appearances for Spurs already, but is set for a tough battle to force his way back into the starting XI when he returns, which is expected to be during January.
In other Tottenham news, Graham Roberts claims the club’s 29-year-old is playing out of his skin.