Lucas thanks Rodgers

Midfielder's injury was a huge blow to Liverpool last season

Lucas Leiva: The Liverpool man was carried off in their Carling Cup win at Chelsea that ruled him out for the rest of the season

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Lucas Leiva insists the kind words of new boss Brendan Rodgers helped him make a remarkable recovery from knee surgery.

The 25-year-old Brazil international went under the knife after damaging his knee ligaments last November and was not expected back until the autumn.

But the midfielder stunned medical staff at the club by declaring himself fit for Liverpool's pre-season tour of the US and came off the bench to face Tottenham in Baltimore.

It is rumoured he is expected to play a key role in a mobile midfield trio with Steven Gerrard and transfer target Joe Allen as Rodgers looks to recreate the Spanish style he was handed at Swansea by former manger Roberto Martinez.

And Lucas puts his speedy comeback down to a desire to repay the faith shown in him by Rodgers when he first walked through the door as Kenny Dalglish' s replacement this summer.

"On my first day back in Liverpool, he spoke with me and said I was in his plans," Leiva told the club's official website.

"Those words helped me to relax a little bit more because he was a new manager coming in and everyone wants to impress.

"I was coming back from an injury and knew I wouldn't be at the same level as the other players.

"It gave me the confidence to progress slowly and I am really happy to have his support from the beginning.

"When a manager says great things about you, it always gives you extra confidence and motivation - but I was already motivated enough. I am at a big club and very happy to play for this club.

"It's just a question of time and being patient. He has been very important from the first day."