There is “no chance” of club-record signing Erik Lamela featuring for Tottenham before the season is out, according to head coach Tim Sherwood.
Billed as Spurs' ready-made replacement for Gareth Bale, the 22-year-old's summer arrival for £30million was greeted by excitement at White Hart Lane.
However, Lamela has so far been a huge disappointment in north London, managing just three Barclays Premier League starts in a debut season blighted by injury.
A report on Thursday suggested the Argentina international will return to training next week after his latest complaint and that head coach Sherwood is under pressure to give him a run-out before the season is out.
The Spurs head coach recently stated that Lamela would not be available this season due to a back complaint and was bemused by the latest speculation.
Who could replace Tim Sherwood as Tottenham manager?
Who could replace Tim Sherwood as Tottenham manager?
1/11 Frank de Boer
Hugely respected former Ajax and Barcelona player Frank de Boer looks to have taken well to management having won the Eredivisie the last four years running. As respected as it is, Ajax has a tendency to be a stepping stone on to bigger things. So is Spurs big enough? The Dutchman has been strongly linked and in return he has suggested he would be keen.
2/11 Mauricio Pochettino
When Southampton appointed Pochettino it came as a shock. Few knew much more about him than he once tripped Michael Owen in the box when England met Argentina at the 2002 World Cup. Since then, he's shown himself to be a more than adept manager in the Premier League, making the most of the youthful team he found at St Mary's and instilling an ambition in the club few realised they were capable of. Since the departure of executive chairman Nicolas Cortese, the man who brought Pochettino to the club, there have been question marks over his future.
3/11 Glenn Hoddle
Glenn Hoddle was a fans favourite at White Hart Lane and has previously managed the North London club. The former England manager has been out of work since leaving his role as Wolverhampton Wanderers boss in 2006 and has openly expressed his desire to manage Tottenham Hotspur once again. He wasn't shy of criticising Sherwood either.
4/11 Jurgen Klinsmann
A Tottenham legend, Jurgen Klinsmann lit up the Premier League during his spell at White Hart Lane. Many Spurs fans will have fond memories of the German genius during his time in North London and would love to see the current United States national team boss make a return to the Lane.
5/11 Justin Edinburgh
Former Tottenham Hotspur defender Justin Edinburgh has worked wonders with League Two Newport County during his two-and-a-bit-years with the South Wales club. He joined the Exiles in 2011 and went on to win the Conference Premier play-offs the season after. Could he be a surprise candidate for the White Hart Lane hot seat?
6/11 Jupp Heynckes
The veteran German manager, who was named Fifa coach of the year in January, has been out of work since leaving Bayern Munich in May. In his last season at the German giants he won the Bundesliga, German Cup and the Champions League. He is currently retired but could the opportunity to manage Tottenham Hotspur draw him out of his armchair?
7/11 Sean Dyche
After being unceremoniously sacked by Watford, Sean Dyche has reinvented himself at Championship side Burnley. Dubbed the 'Ginger Mourinho' by the Turf Moor crowd, Dyche is a manager whose stock is rising, with his Clarets side having been promoted to the Premier League for next season.
8/11 Diego Simeone
Diego Simeone has taken to management like a duck to water, although the British public may not be his biggest fans, after the Argentinian was responsible for getting David Beckham sent-off at the 1998 World Cup in France. His record in Spain since taking over Atletico Madrid has been incredibly impressive with his side in contention for the La Liga title as well as reaching the lChampions League final. Might be difficult for Spurs to convince him to switch.
9/11 Michael Laudrup
The Dane has been out of work since being sacked by Swansea City over e-mail in February. During his time in Wales he led the Swans to their first trophy in their 102-year history as well as getting them to play some of leagues most attractive football.
10/11 Eddie Howe
Eddie Howe's name being thrown into the mix for the Tottenham manager's job could come as a surprise to the fans, but he is a manager that has impressed this season in the Championship. After a successful period at Bournemouth, he left for Burnley, his time at Turf Moor wasn't the best, but since returning to the Cherries he has got them playing an attractive style of football and up to 12th in the Championship.
11/11 David Moyes
Before he was 'chosen' to manage Manchester United, Moyes was linked with Spurs. Having been sacked after less than 10 months in charge of Manchester United, White Hart Lane could provide a quick return to management. His record prior to his latest job is excellent - after all - United thought he was good enough to replace Sir Alex.
"There'll be no chance Erik's fit," Sherwood 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."
That news will no doubt frustrate Tottenham supporters, who have not seen Lamela in action since he came off the bench against Stoke on December 29.
Some fans have poked fun at the situation by drawing up missing-pet posters of a player Sherwood finds hard to make a judgement on.
"You know what, I haven't seen enough of him," he said. "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, and Erik the jury's still out on him because I haven't seen enough of him so 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."
Some have already made their mind up, though, brandishing Lamela one of the worst buys of recent times.
"I think it is unfair because obviously he has not been fit so it has been hard to judge," Sherwood said of the 'flop' tag.
"The price isn't his fault. He comes with a huge price tag but it is not Erik that sets that price."
Lamela is not the only big-money summer acquisition on the sidelines right now, with Roberto Soldado and Etienne Capoue also out through injury.
The trio will miss Saturday's match against relegation-threatened Fulham, as will defenders Jan Vertonghen, Kyle Walker and Michael Dawson.
Mousa Dembele is the only positive news on the injury front and is set to return from a hip complaint in a match that appears to mean much more to his former club.
Fulham are searching for a third successive win as the look to pull off a miraculous escape, whereas the best Spurs can hope for is qualifying - or some might argue missing out on - the Europa League.
"It's important that we concentrate on the job in hand," Sherwood 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."
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