Jay Spearing has paid tribute to Liverpool teammate and fellow midfielder Lucas Leiva for the role he has played in helping the youngster establish himself in the Reds first team squad.
The 22-year-old former reserve team captain made great strides last season, after being handed an opportunity by manager Kenny Dalglish to stake a claim in the Liverpool side, and Spearing hasn't looked back since.
After making 20 appearances last term, Spearing, who like Lucas was rewarded with a new Anfield contract last month, is looking to push on again in 2011-12 with the help of his Brazilian counterpart.
"He's helped me from the moment I stepped into the team and he's always been there supporting me," said Spearing. "When we play together he always uses his experience to help me through the game and I think we bounce off each other and support each other very well."
And despite the increased competition for places after the summer arrival of Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam, Spearing feels that the understanding he has developed with Lucas means both players will be well placed for a starting berth in what will hopefully be a successful Liverpool side in next term.
"I think it's about communication to get that balance right and we've been working quite well together," he continued. "There was a good hype about the end of last season and also this year.
"We know that we need to keep doing the things that we have been doing. If we do that there is no reason why the fans and ourselves can't look forward to next year and see us competing again."
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