Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/3/12
Lucas Leiva has his sights set on returning to the level he was at before injury cut his season short against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in November 2011. The Brazilian had been in the form of his career for the Reds in the weeks and months preceding the League Cup quarter-final which saw him stretchered from the field after a collision with Juan Mata. On Saturday, the 25-year-old made an impressive return to action against Southampton, when he played in just his third Barclays Premier League game since that initial knock. Having overcome two separate injuries in 13 months, Lucas is now determined to get back to the top of his game. “It’s a process where I will get better with games,” he told the Liverpool Echo. “I’m not thinking my first game back will be my best game. I have done everything I could do and now I’m hoping to get a good run of games and training sessions as that’s the only way I will get back to the level I was at before. “A year ago, before that game at Chelsea, maybe I was playing my best football for Liverpool. I really believe I can get to that level again and I want to get there as soon as possible. “Hopefully I’ll be able to help the team a lot this season. It’s getting to an important part of the season and the manager will need everyone fit.” The knee injury sustained at Stamford Bridge kept Lucas sidelined right up until the day he made his return against Toronto in Canada in July this year during the Reds’ preseason tour of North America. However, after playing for 69 minutes in the opening game of the 2012-13 season against West Brom, the holding midfielder was forced to withdraw after minutes against Manchester City eight days later due to a thigh injury. “This has been a really hard year for me,” he admitted. “I only had such a short period when I was fit and could play. In five years of being here I didn’t really have any problems at all. Then in the past year I’ve had two serious injuries. “I had some bad days and some bad times when I really didn’t know what was going to happen. I never thought I wouldn’t get back but to get the injuries so close together was very difficult to take. “The medical staff don’t think they were linked as in terms of strength and mobility my knee was fine. I did every single test to check if I was ready to come back. “It was just very unlucky. It was funny because I’m not a player who shoots much but that’s how I hurt my thigh. It was a big tear and that’s why it’s taken me so long to get back. “At the beginning it was rest and then it was a case of building up the strength again with some running and then with some ball work. I tried to get my head right, keep going and stay focused on my rehab.” The Reds’ No. 21 has watched plenty of the team’s games this season, eager to join his teammates and aid their ascent up the league table. He believes their performances have warranted more, in terms of points, so far this term and is determined to contribute to a good run of games that will propel the club towards the top-four spots. “In a lot of the games we’ve had very good performances but not got the results we deserved,” he said. “Tottenham was a good example of that. They started really well and after 20 minutes were 2-0 up but after that we took over and had enough chances to turn the game our way. “It’s a process where everyone is learning under the new manager and we will keep improving. Hopefully we will get a good run of games in December and January and get as many points as we can. If we can put together three or four wins in a row we will be up there challenging for fourth place maybe.” Photo via LFCTour.com
PLAYERS: Juan Mata
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