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Tottenham won't rush Erik Lamela back to first team after U23 return

ESPN FC's Craig Burley reveals his predictions for Sevilla-Liverpool, Dortmund-Tottenham and Man City-Feyenoord.
Shaka Hislop continues talk over Tottenham's loss to Arsenal and says their reliance on Harry Kane will continue to be their undoing.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has played down an imminent first-team comeback for Erik Lamela after the winger finally returned to the pitch for the under-23s on Saturday.

Lamela, who has been sidelined with serious hip problems, last played in the League Cup against Liverpool 13 months ago but he has been back in training for a month, with Pochettino repeatedly saying that he is waiting for the 25-year-old to say he is "ready" to compete.

While Spurs were losing 2-0 at Arsenal on Saturday, Lamela started for the club's U23s in a 3-2 defeat to Chelsea at Hotspur Way, playing an hour.

But he is ineligible for Tuesday's Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund and Pochettino played down his chances of featuring against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

"He played for the U23s against Chelsea on Saturday for 60 minutes and after 20 minutes started to feel something. This is normal after one year. It's different to training," Pochettino told a news conference.

"When you compete you feel different in your body and mind, expectations and stress. We are happy with him. We will see what happens. We hope he starts to feel better and one day be available for the first team."

Erik Lamela has not played for Tottenham's first team since October 2016.

Pochettino also reiterated his claim that Arsenal should have had Granit Xhaka sent off for fouls on Moussa Sissoko and Dele Alli in the first half of the defeat at the Emirates.

The Switzerland international was booked for a clattering foul on Alli at 0-0 but he escaped punishment for a similar offence against France midfielder Sissoko soon after, leaving Pochettino bemused.

"When you lose always you try to analyse and see and then improve what was wrong. It's true many decisions you can see that were decisive in this type of game. The game was even. When you watch again, Xhaka against Sissoko and Dele Alli, and 0-0, it should be Arsenal playing with 10 men not 11," Pochettino said.

"You need to be lucky. It was not a foul against Alexis [Sanchez] and it was offside and then you're one down. It was difficult to come back. You like to speak about stats, it's difficult when the game is even to come back.

"But we are positive. The performance was good, the effort was good, we can do better of course. Maybe we should have scored three and won but it's difficult. It's not to complain with the ref only to describe what it was. We didn't have the luck to win against Arsenal."

Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.

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