Lucas Leiva ‘Really Pleased’ With His Recovery From Injury, Closing in on Best Form

Stewart Downing and Lucas LeivaAs he joined the growing pool of players who have made 200 appearances for Liverpool, midfielder Lucas Leiva has expounded the benefits and importance of a squad packed with experience.

The Brazilian reached his double century for the Reds when he started the game against West Bromwich Albion on Monday — six years after joining the club.

Martin Skrtel passed the 200 landmark himself last month at Manchester United, while his defensive colleague Daniel Agger is two matches short of achieving the same feat.

With Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard and Pepe Reina in the many hundreds with regards to games for Liverpool, there is vast experience available to Brendan Rodgers. And Lucas considers that fact to be vital.

“When you look at the teams that win titles, they always have a core of players who know the club and have played together for a long time,” the 26-year-old explained to the LFC matchday program. “So it’s important, especially with young players coming into the side. The experienced players can help them feel comfortable and make things easier for them.

“I think it’s a great achievement to play 200 games for Liverpool. It’s been a long journey for me to get there but I’m really pleased that I have developed here and improved.

“Maybe it should’ve come earlier than now because of the injuries that I’ve had but I still think that in five-and-a-half seasons 200 games is not a bad number.

“When a player can be available to play every game, his value is higher. Before I injured my ACL at Chelsea in 2011, I never had any problems so if you think of it as two injuries in five-and-a-half years, it’s not bad. Unfortunately the injuries have been long ones and I had to be out for almost a year. At 26 I’m still quite young and have plenty more games to play.”

Lucas has featured on 17 occasions for the Reds during 2012-13, including a full 90 minutes in each of the side’s last three Barclays Premier League encounters.

The defensive enforcer was boosted by his ability to complete successive heavyweight matches at Arsenal and Manchester City and believes the focus should now be on making further progress.

“I am very close to where I want to be,” he continued. “There is still room to improve but I think the games will help me. The recent games against Arsenal and Manchester City were very important for me psychologically.

“I needed to get through two big games in four days to show that I could cope with the pace and the fitness, so mentally it was very good for me to get those two 90 minutes behind me. I don’t think I have any reason now to think that I’m not ready. So it is now about small details in improving and trying to get better. Overall I am really pleased with the way I have improved in the eight weeks I’ve been back.”

A January arrival at Anfield also pleased Lucas, with Brazil compatriot Philippe Coutinho becoming the latest recruit for Rodgers — a shrewd move according to the midfielder.

“He is a player with a lot of skill who likes to link with forwards and he also scores goals,” Lucas concluded. “He will be a very good player for the future and I am here to help him settle in as quickly as possible.

“It is important that we let him adjust to his new environment, a different way of living and his new teammates. “I know how important it is to have help at this moment because I was a similar age when I moved to Europe. I think Coutinho will adapt really quickly and hopefully he will soon start playing well for the club.”

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