Tottenham's Erik Lamela says Argentina return spurred on recovery from injury
Erik Lamela said he was determined to return to the Argentina squad during his 13-month injury absence and is thrilled to have now achieved that goal.
The 26-year-old Tottenham winger's last international appearance came in September 2016, a month before he suffered a hip problem that sidelined him for over a year.
Lamela was overlooked for the World Cup squad but, having scored six goals for Spurs this season, he has been recalled and could add to his 23 caps when Argentina play back-to-back friendlies against Mexico on Saturday and Wednesday.
"It's very important for me because it was in my mind a lot in the spell I was out," he said. "It was one of the things I was focused on, as well as playing for Tottenham. To come back now is very important. I hope I will play.
"I watched the World Cup. I have a good relationship with the players and I was sad for them as some players deserve to win something with the national team. The World Cup is the best tournament and I was sad for them and my country. The motivation is to play for my country.
"I fought a lot to be back. It was difficult when I was injured. I always looked from afar but now I'm back and so happy that I'm playing, not injured. I keep my fingers crossed but this is the most important thing -- to play and enjoy football.
"Players have targets and mine is to keep my fitness and to do what I need to play -- to always be available. I have a goals target for the season because, if not, it's impossible to compete."
Lamela's Tottenham teammates Juan Foyth and Paulo Gazzaniga have also been selected for Argentina's clashes with Mexico.
Foyth scored his first goal for the club in Saturday's 1-0 win at Crystal Palace, while Gazzaniga has received his first international call-up after replacing Michel Vorm as Spurs' No.2 goalkeeper and starting five matches this season, including last week's 2-1 Champions League victory over PSV Eindhoven.
"I'm so happy for them because they deserve to have a chance in the national team," said Lamela. "They're young and doing good, and for me it's better -- I like to go all together.
"Paulo is showing in every training session that he can play in the Premier League, and when he played he did amazingly. I'm so happy for him, but he didn't surprise me because I know he's an amazing keeper."