The Brazilian suffered cruciate ligament damage during Tuesday night's Carling Cup success over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and is now facing a long spell on the sidelines. Lucas has established himself as a key member of the Anfield outfit's engine room, having previously been regarded with disdain by many supporters. And veteran centre-back Carragher feels that his impact over this season and last term has been as significant as that provided by star striker Luis Suarez. The former England international said: "For the last 18 months, in my opinion, he has been our best player. "Luis has come in and done great things for the club, but Lucas has been his equal in many ways. "He has been as good as anyone in the team this season." And Carragher has saluted Lucas for the way he has stood firm and won the fans over following his £5million move from Gremio in July 2007. "I have been there in terms of receiving criticism," the 33-year-old added. "High standards are expected when you play for one of the big clubs and there are plenty of examples of players who have gone missing after realising the demands on them. "But you can tell he is a top player as he never let that bother him - he just got on with it and plays in nearly every game. "If he has a little knock, he will always try and carry on, doing his best for us. There are lots of different characters but you can't fault Lucas."