Lucas Leiva knows he faces a battle to achieve his dream of representing Brazil when it hosts the FIFA 2014 World Cup next summer.
The 26-year-old was handed a timely boost when Luiz Felipe Scolari named him in the squad for forthcoming exhibitions against South Korea and Zambia.
Strong performances in those games will serve the midfielder well as he looks to force his way into the manager’s thinking.
And Lucas is determined to show he deserves a full-time role in the squad by acquitting himself in the right manner out on the practice field during the international break.
“It means so much to be involved again with Brazil,” he told the Liverpool Echo. “It’s the chance that I’ve wanted.
“I know I will be tested over these friendly games but it’s up to me now. I have to ensure that if I play, I produce good performances in those two games.
“But it’s not just about the matches, even in training sessions and off the pitch when I am around the squad I have to be a good person and be involved with the group.”
Lucas has 20 international caps to his name; however, the Brazilian has not played for his country since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury at Stamford Bridge in November 2011.
He went on to suffer from a long-term thigh problem incurred on the opening day of last season — but now, fully recovered, the Reds’ No. 21 is keen to return to normality with the national side ahead of next year’s tournament.
“It’s been my dream to play for Brazil in the World Cup in my country,” he said. “For all Brazilian players, that will be enormous. It’s going to be very special and I’d love to be part of it.
“It’s always difficult to be in the squad as there are so many players competing for those places. But I’m back in there now and I need to try to convince the manager that I am able to make the group for the World Cup.
“It’s the chance I’ve been looking for ever since I got back from my knee injury.
“I have really missed the atmosphere of being around the national team. Playing for my country means a lot to me and I am really looking forward to experiencing that again.
“Hopefully I can do a good job. It’s not long now until the World Cup and there aren’t many international games left before it.”
Photo via Liverpoolfc.com