Gerrard excited by Lucas return

England captain hails the resolve of Lucas after winning over fans

Steven Gerrard: Liverpool skipper driving his team forward

Lucas Leiva: Recovered from injury and back in the Liverpool side

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Steven Gerrard has backed the returning Lucas Leiva to once again underline his class to Liverpool fans.

The 25-year-old was displaying his most consistent form since joining the Reds in 2007 when he damaged his cruciate ligament at the tail end of last year.

Lucas, though, has now recovered from the injury and is poised to start the 2012/13 campaign at the heart of Liverpool's midfield.

Most observers blamed Liverpool's mid-season slump on the Brazilian's absence, and that is a point not lost on the Reds' skipper.

Injury

"It was a big factor, because when he got the injury he was probably our best player, form-wise," Gerrard told the club's official website.

"He was playing superbly well, and he plays that position in the team where he does the ugly work, the work you don't really like to do: breaking up the play, protecting the back four, and when we lose the ball and teams counter-attack, he stops a lot of goals.

"It's great to have him back. He's a great person; he's great for the squad."

Lucas was signed by Rafa Benitez but initially struggled with the demands of the Premier League and failed to win over the Kop.

Stronger

However, it was testament to his character that he redoubled his efforts to become central to the success of the team.

"You've got to come through the lows, and it was certainly a low for Lucas when the fans weren't giving him the backing," Gerrard added.

"All the players stuck with him because you could see it in training and in parts of his game that he was a young lad who was always going to come good.

"Credit to him - he rolled his sleeves up, he worked hard, he hit the gym and got himself stronger physically and it's turned around for him."