Sport Soccer

Saturday 21 July 2018

Townsend's form gives AVB dilemma over £25m Lamela

Jack Pitt-Brooke

WHEN Erik Lamela left Roma for Tottenham Hotspur in a £25m move, it might not have been the prospect of a League Cup game against Steve Bruce's Hull City that excited him most.

But two months into his spell at Spurs, Lamela finds himself hoping for a start tonight and that crucial first foothold into the first team that every new arrival so desperately needs.

So far, the 21-year-old Argentinian's impact at Tottenham has been, it must be said, limited. This is not his fault; adjustment into a new team takes time.

The more pressing issue, for Lamela and Spurs, is that he does not look much closer to the team now than when he joined and has yet to start a Premier League game.

Manager Andre Villas-Boas has chosen to play him only against Tromso, Anzhi and Sheriff in the Europa League and at Aston Villa in the League Cup.

In a sense, Lamela is an unfortunate victim of the rise and rise of Andros Townsend, another explosive young left-footed right winger.

Since Townsend's display in the Europa League play-off game in Dinamo Tblisi convinced Villas-Boas just how good he was, England's new wonder boy has started every Spurs' league game on the right wing.

UNDROPPABLE

It is quite possible that Townsend's form will dip, but, for now at least, the man who scored at Villa Park – and on his England debut – is undroppable.

Aaron Lennon, too, is back from injury, and his return on the right meant that Lamela started at Sheriff in Moldova on the left, with little impact.

There have been occasional flashes from the player and no one doubts that he can perform.

In his first Tottenham start, an unremarkable 3-0 home win over Tromso, his delightful first-time pass set up Jermain Defoe's goal.

In the most effective of his four substitute appearances, at Cardiff City, his last-minute cross to Paulinho won Spurs the game.

But after his last league outing – 30 quiet minutes against West Ham – he was left unused on the bench against Villa and Hull.

Villas-Boas, speaking after that Hull game, denied that the player's price tag put him under any special pressure to pick Lamela and said he hoped the youngster would improve in time.

"We have been speaking a lot with him. I think getting acquainted to the Premier League is important, but he doesn't know the language.

"(Roberto) Soldado had some knowledge of the language before (he came), so it was a little bit easier for him.

With Erik, it was a little bit more difficult, but we have given him massive,massive help and his family arrived this week." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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