Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Mousa Dembele has returned to action before three difficult clashes against West Ham United, Manchester United and Real Madrid, although Mauricio Pochettino is now unsure when long-term absentee Erik Lamela will be in a position to play again.

It will be exactly a year on Wednesday (25 October) since Lamela made his last appearance for Spurs during an EFL Cup defeat to Liverpool - since which time he has undergone surgeries on both hips - and Pochettino last week expressed hope that the Argentine winger could make the bench for the fourth round London derby at Wembley Stadium after making good progress in training.

However, it now transpires that Lamela, who was omitted from Tottenham's squad for the group stages of the Champions League, is not in contention to face West Ham and his comeback looks set to be further delayed.

"No, Erik is not on the list," Pochettino was quoted as saying by football.london at his pre-match press conference. "He's doing well but still he's not available.

"After one year [out], I cannot say tomorrow, one week or one month. It depends on his evolution.

"It's the same process as Danny Rose, assessing him and trying every day to get the feelings. Then when he's ready I will let you know about that, but still he's not available.

"We need to be careful with him and all the players, like Dembele and Danny Rose. After a long period when you're not available to play it's so important because for them the psychology when you only train and don't compete is totally different.

"Now they need to be involved with care, because always it's risk. But I think we are doing well and we will provide the opportunity to play when we believe it's right."

While Lamela will not feature against West Ham, Dembele is back after returning to training. The Belgian midfielder had been bothered by a recurring ankle injury and did fly out with the squad for the first of two back-to-back Champions League clashes with Real Madrid, only to sustain a hip problem before the match at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"He's on the list," Pochettino said. "I need to decide tomorrow the starting XI but it's ok, he's been doing well in the last few days and it's important to have available nearly all the squad."

Pochettino confirmed that it remains a possibility that Rose could make his first start for almost nine months against West Ham after recovering from surgery to fix damaged medial ligaments in his knee and producing a 10-minute cameo during that engrossing draw in Madrid. The England left-back remained an unused substitute against Liverpool.

However, Victor Wanyama remains sidelined as he prepares to seek specialist advice on a lingering knee issue that has kept him out since the last-gasp defeat to Chelsea on 20 August.

Tottenham say the Kenyan is "continuing his rehabilitation" and that his "progress is being monitored". Pochettino admitted last week that he was growing concerned by the situation.

When asked if he envisaged resting players tomorrow with that Premier League trip to Old Trafford looming, the manager said: "We are resting players because they need to rest, because we don't want to take risks. Then all the players that we believe are available, without risk, to play tomorrow, they are going to play.

"We are forced to give some rest to some players. But we are going to play with the players that can be fresh and ready to compete tomorrow because it's a derby and because we want to go to the next stage of the Carabao Cup."

Erik Lamela
Tottenham winger Erik Lamela is said to have made good progress in training Getty Images