AVB: I'll give Lamela time to settle

Erik Lamela will be given all the time he needs to justify his heavy price tag, according to Andre Villas-Boas.

Erik Lamela of Tottenham, Joe Bennett of Aston Villa

Tottenham's record signing is struggling to settle into life at White Hart Lane and the rigours of Barclays Premier League football.

But Spurs manager Villas-Boas always expected the £30million man would need time to find his feet after his summer switch from Roma.

Rejecting claims the Argentina midfielder is homesick, Villas-Boas pledged Tottenham will stay patient with their marquee recruit.

Villas-Boas said: "We need to be a little bit patient with him, not speaking the language, it's very difficult.

"Not only that but coming from a completely different social background.

"Imagine moving from Roma to Tottenham, it's a difficult step for him.

"So we need to give him the chance to break into the team.

"And I think eventually, when a game goes fully his way for 90 minutes, we can have him to the level he can achieve."

Villas-Boas believes having his family around him should improve matters now.

"We've been very careful with him and given him our full support," the Portuguese said.

"It's a heavy price tag, a price tag that was deserved for what he did at Roma, but I think he still needs time.

"It took him about six months to settle in Roma.

"Also position-wise, he started out on the left there, then had a wonderful season on the right.

"At the moment on the right is not going well for him so he shifted back to the left and I think that will come good."

Villas-Boas remains confident Lamela will prove himself a "great player" for the club, despite still getting to grips with the London life.

Tottenham make the trip to Wearside to face Sunderland on Saturday, seeking their second Barclays Premier League win on the road in four days.

Victory at Fulham on Wednesday eased mounting pressure on Villas-Boas, ending Spurs' four-match stretch without a league triumph.

Portuguese boss Villas-Boas now hopes a revival in Tottenham's on-field fortunes can help Lamela warm to his new club.

He said: "Rome is totally different from London.

"The social life and the warmth of the fans is felt in a different way.

"Here whenever you are working anywhere, you feel a little bit more isolated.

"I'm not saying he's homesick, it's just a massive change of social life, of not speaking the language.

"Rome is a city where there are 60 to 70 per cent Roma fans.

"That makes it a big difference for the daily contact the player has with his fans, not only in a positive way but also in moments of pressure where fans demand from players.

"So all of these different things are difficult for him, but we are willing to be patient.

"That's why from not being selected against Manchester United he went straight into the team (against Fulham), to give him that chance.

"It's a question of nurturing them.

"Some settle straight away, others take more time.

"He has all the technical abilities that we see from a great player."

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