September 20 2014 Latest news:
By Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Tim Sherwood has denied that he is under pressure to play Erik Lamela, repeating that the Argentine will be out of action for the rest of the season - and he admits it is unclear whether the midfielder will be a hit next season.
However, the head coach insists it is unfair to brand the £26million summer signing a flop.
Lamela has not appeared in 2014 after thigh and back injuries, but it was reported this week that he could return just before the end of the season and that Sherwood is being urged to give the 22-year-old some playing time.
But Sherwood has denied that the midfielder might appear before the end of the campaign.
“There’ll be no chance Erik’s fit,” he 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.
“Can he kick on and be a big player next season? You know what, I haven’t seen enough of him. 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. With Erik, the jury’s still out because I haven’t seen enough of him. 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.”
Lamela has already been branded an expensive flop in some quarters, but Sherwood said: “I think it’s unfair because obviously he’s not been fit so it’s been hard to judge. The price isn’t his fault. He comes with a huge price tag but it’s not Erik that sets that price.”
Another recent Spurs signing, Lewis Holtby, will also be hoping to make an impact at White Hart Lane next season after spending the second half of this campaign on loan at Fulham.
Tottenham host the Cottagers in the Premier League on Saturday and, while Holtby is ineligible to face his parent club, Sherwood says the Lilywhites’ staff have been keeping a close eye on the German’s progress at Craven Cottage.
“We knew he was a good player, he’s playing in that No10 role and he has affected things,” said the Spurs boss. “We’ve been watching him very closely recently because we’ve got this game coming up, and he’s done very well.
“I think it [the loan move] was right for him, I think he’s been good for them. It’s good that he’s played some games in the Premier League so it will benefit Tottenham next year.
“The last thing we wanted to do was to keep him here and for him not to play, so I think that all of the new signings – the seven of them – will improve and get better, and next year they’ll be better players for having the experience of playing. But they have to play to get that experience.”
Mousa Dembele is back in contention to face his former club after recovering from injury.
And, although Spurs have little to play for – just a Europa League spot which could be more of a hindrance than a help next season – Sherwood is keen to finish the season on a high with four victories.
“It’s important that we concentrate on the job in hand,” he 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.”
The teams in the relegation fight will be hoping that Tottenham are at their best against Fulham, but Sherwood says Spurs don’t owe the Cottagers’ struggling rivals anything, and that he is more concerned with pleasing the home fans at White Hart Lane.
“The duty of care comes to our fans, playing for the shirt of the football club, not worrying about anyone else. They have got themselves into that position because they haven’t been great, that’s the bottom line. The league doesn’t lie after 38 games and where you are is where you deserve to be.
“We’re going to go out there and try to entertain our fans and attack. That’s what we’ve done ever since I’ve come to the club and that’s what we will continue to do.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs