- Premier League
Lucas poised to make Liverpool comeback
Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva is ready to end a year-long injury nightmare against Southampton at Anfield on Saturday.
Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has confirmed that the midfielder is fully fit again after managing only four first-team games in the last 12 months.
Lucas missed the second half of last season after suffering cruciate knee ligament damage during a League Cup victory at Chelsea on November 29 last year.
He fought back to full fitness over the summer, but then sustained a thigh injury at the start of a Premier League game against Manchester City on August 26.
The Brazil international, 25, stepped up his comeback with a 61-minute run-out as an overage player for Liverpool's Under-21 squad as they beat Middlesbrough 1-0 last Friday, and Rodgers is now ready to bring the midfielder back into his first-team fold.
He said: "Lucas Leiva will return to the squad, which is great news because he's been working very, very hard and played the reserve game last week. He's been training for a few weeks and looked very good, so we'll look forward to bringing him back in."
Rodgers is wary of pushing Lucas too far too soon, but has been impressed with the midfielder for the way he has dealt with his injury setbacks.
"He has worked tirelessly in his recovery," Rodgers said. "We're just trying to nudge him along and make sure it's the right time. Lucas had a few weeks of training before he played his reserve game. He looked very capable in that game and he's had another week of training and I don't think he can go any further with regards to training.
"His next step is games, so we hope that in the next couple of weeks he will get opportunities to play and improve his football fitness. Mentally he's a tough boy. His mental fitness is very strong and he's looking forward to helping the team.
"It's a big boost because he's well in tune with what we're trying to do here. He's been kicking his heels on the side wanting to help his mates and the group, so I'm delighted to have him back."