Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has lauded the impact made by Lucas Leiva since his return from injury last year.
The Brazilian International sustained an anterior cruciate ligament damage in November 2011, which forced him out of action for almost eight months.
He played an effective part in the Reds pre-season campaign, before being sidelined again in the preliminary stages of the ongoing term after picking up a thigh injury during a league match against Manchester City. Consequently, he was ruled out for another three months.
However, since making his return in November, Lucas has quickly established himself as a regular in the team, and has started in all of Liverpool’s last 14 league matches.
His brisk return to form earned him words of compliments from his manager who has praised his ‘professional’ attitude towards the game.
Rodgers expressed his elation on seeing the midfielder battle past his injury problems, pointing out that his return has served as a big boast for the entire unit.
The 40-year-old manager said: "I’ve been delighted with Lucas.
"We were very wary of the fact he had had a serious knee injury last season, and then obviously another problem on top of that this season.
"It was important for the team to get him back, but it was important for him that we did so at the right pace and that we paced his recovery right.
"It is a big credit to him as a professional. He has worked so hard, and his attitude and his application has been first class. He deserves every praise for the way he has conducted himself."
Lucas’ presence in the midfield has allowed the likes of Joe Allen and Steven Gerrard to involve themselves more in the attack alongside, and has sparked a notable recovery in Liverpool’s position in the league.
And although the 26-year-old Brazilian has been one of the more notable performers for the Reds recently, the Anfield chief believes the prolific playmaker will only get better come next season.
He added: "I still believe, having worked with these kind of injuries in the past, that it won’t be until the summer, and beyond even, that we see him back at full level.
"It will be great for him to get a full pre-season with the group under his belt, but you can see in recent games that his mobility and the speed of his game is getting better and better all the time.
"As I say, it is a credit to him. He’s been fantastic."
Rodgers is known to be a huge admirer of Lucas, who was named Liverpool’s Player of the Season in 2010.
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