Mauricio Pochettino believes Érik Lamela is finally ready to fulfil his potential after the revitalised winger fired Tottenham to a 1-0 win against London rivals West Ham on Saturday.
Lamela struck with a cool header late in the first half at the London Stadium to give Tottenham their fourth successive Premier League victory and lift them into the top four. That made it five goals in just eight appearances this season for Lamela, who was making his first league start of the campaign.
Lamela could start more often after this influential display underlined his improvement since returning from over a year of injury problems that required surgery on both hips.
Pochettino has often kept Lamela on the bench in the past, but the Tottenham boss says the Argentine is earning his trust.
"The form of the player sometimes changes. The most important thing is to trust him," Pochettino said. "We believe in him. He is a player that is more mature. He is more relaxed, he's calm in front of goal. That is the key."
With Tottenham chasing silverware on several fronts, Pochettino challenged Lamela to maintain his fine form for the rest of the season.
"He needs to be consistent. To manage things in the right way and understand where he came from," he said. "He had a lot of injuries in five years with us. The last two seasons were tough for him. But we are patient and take care of the player."
"The first half we were better than West Ham. Maybe we deserved one or two more goals," Pochettino said. "In the second half, we suffered a bit. It's three important points at the start of a very tough period of us."
West Ham's second consecutive loss punctured the optimism sparked by their win over Manchester United earlier in September.
Adding to West Ham's woes, winger Andriy Yarmolenko was taken to hospital after suffering a serious ankle injury.
"Tottenham had one chance and scored. That can happen when you play against one of the best teams in the league," said Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini, who will discover the extent of Yarmolenko's injury on Sunday.
Probing intelligently through Lamela and Lucas Moura, Tottenham worked an early chance for Moussa Sissoko, whose deflected strike flashed just over.