Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/3/12
Joe Allen has insisted Lucas Leiva is a “vital” part of the Liverpool side and that the Brazilian’s return to action will help the Reds climb the Barclays Premier League standings in the coming weeks. Lucas made an impressive return to action against Southampton on Saturday, when he played his first minutes for the first team since limping from the field against Manchester City in August. And Allen believes the Reds will now benefit from an injection of steel and determination that the 25-year-old’s return will bring to the team. “You’re always going to miss quality players like Lucas and it’s great to have him back in the side,” Allen told the Liverpool Echo. ”When he pulled up injured in the Man City game it was a bitter blow. He had worked so hard to get back from the knee injury. It was a disappointing setback on a personal level but also from the football club’s point of view. “His return, with the steel and quality he brings, is only going to help the team going forward. It’s a very important role. If you look at the top teams, they all utilise that position and have a quality player there. “Lucas is vital for the way we play. With him back playing, I’m sure we’ll get the benefits of that in terms of points and our position in the table.” Lucas’ return allowed Allen to operate in a more advanced role in the game against Southampton and the Wales international insisted he enjoyed playing in his more natural position. “I haven’t played there for a while so I found myself trying to get back into the swing of things but it was great to be part of a victory,” said Allen. “I had that security of knowing that Lucas was there. It gives you the chance to express yourself further up the pitch, and try to get involved in creating and scoring goals.” The win, aided by a superb header from Daniel Agger, leaves the Reds seven points adrift from the top four and Allen insists that a UEFA Champions League spot remains the target. “We’ve closed the gap a bit and we have got a run of games now where we want to pick up points and further reduce that deficit,” he said. “After the disappointing defeat at Spurs when the performance level was high, we needed to get three points in front of our home crowd and we did that. The only frustration was that we didn’t score more goals. When you play against any team at this level and it’s only 1-0, there are going to be moments when you leave yourself vulnerable. “But we saw the game out reasonably comfortably and we want this to be the start of another long unbeaten run.” The one drawback to emerge from Saturday’s encounter came when Luis Suarez was shown a yellow card in the second half and will now not be available for the Reds’ trip to the Boleyn Ground to face West Ham in a week’s time. “It would be a blow for any team in the world to lose a player like Luis for a game,” said Allen.”It’s a shame he will be missing but it’s up to everyone else to chip in with goals. “Daniel’s header was a great finish on Saturday. We can’t expect too many from him but it was vital on the day.” Photo via Liverpoolfc.com

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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