Erik Lamela is relishing the challenge of having to fight to regain a place in the Tottenham Hotspur first team following his recent return to action from a 13-month spell on the sidelines.

The former AS Roma star became one of Mauricio Pochettino's most trusted performers during the Argentine's first two seasons in north London, helping Spurs secure an impressive runners-up spot behind Leicester City in the 2015-16 Premier League season.

The 25-year-old forward began the last campaign as a regular under Pochettino but a hip injury sustained in October 2016 forced him to miss the rest of the season.

Lamela required two bouts of surgery and after a 13-month absence has been forced to start from scratch.

The Argentine made his long awaited return in the 2-1 loss to Leicester City on 28 November and has since played 16 games, though just four of them have been starts.

During his long spell on the treatment room Tottenham have continued their rapid developing under Pochettino and the competition for places has consequently increased.

Son Heung-min has emerged as a key figure while Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen have also continued their progress as part of the one of the most fearsome attacks in the Premier League.

That competition is set to increase even further after Pochettino decided to bolster his attack during the January transfer window with the addition of Lucas Moura from Paris Saint-Germain in a deal worth around £25m, according to Sky Sports.

But far from lamenting the arrival of the Brazilian winger, Lamela is embracing the challenge, pointing out that better players at Tottenham will take the club closer to their first trophy since the 2008 League Cup.

"[Lucas] adds competitiveness. Now we are all available to the coach and that is positive. It makes no-one relaxed. You have to train hard and then take advantage of the chances when you play. Obviously the more we are the better team we have, "Lamela told IBTimes UK after coming off the bench to help Tottenham to secure a 1-0 victory over Arsenal.

"Having to fight for a place makes me happy. It means that those who playing are doing well. I am just one more player in the team and what I want is for the team to win. Hopefully we continue winning games and continue competing as we been done in recent matches,

"The team has progresses a lot since Pochettino arrived. In his second year we already fight with Leicester for the title. Then I got the injury and the team have continued improving. They work very hard in training, to improve small details and that make the team more and more competitive."

That improvement has been reflected in recent weeks with Tottenham securing a valuable point at Anfield before beating Manchestester United and Arsenal in Wembley.

Lamela played a role in all those key games and expects to called on again when Tottenham visit Juventus on Tuesday night (13 February) for the first leg of the Champions League last 16.

"It's important to make the most of every opportunity when I get a chance to come off the bench, especially when the team needs it. Against Arsenal I couldn't score but the important thing is that the team won. We got the three points and now is time to think about Juventus," he added.

"The first match is very important. Hopefully we can score because that would help us a lot ahead of the second leg. It will be a great tie. We know they are a strong team but we always fight. It's going to be a tough tie and anything can happen."

Lamela scored his first goal since returning from injury during the victory over Newport County in the FA Cup. Getty