Hodgson hints at new deal for Lucas after Brazilian finally proves his worth

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The Independent Football

Although Lucas Leiva would never publicly thank his lucky stars for Steven Gerrard's recent injury, part of him must be grateful for his recent serendipitous opportunity to impress at Anfield, particularly as it now appears that he has done enough to win a new Liverpool contract.

The Brazilian has been at Liverpool since July 2007 but has spent most of his career trying to convince the Kop he is worthy of the shirt but the idea that he is not up to scratch has been revised in recent weeks.

Gerrard's hamstring problem – picked up on England duty last month – means Lucas has featured alongside Raul Meireles in the middle of the park and their relationship seems to improve and flourish exponentially with every match played.

Gerrard, who will miss the Newcastle United game tomorrow with his complaint, is still Liverpool's talisman, their rock and the creator of so much good for Roy Hodgson's side but there is no denying that Lucas is now on the upward curve Liverpool first anticipated when they signed him from Brazilian side Gremio.

"I think there are plans to give Lucas a new deal," Hodgson said. "Damien Comolli mentioned to me about getting in touch with his agent to get a new contract sorted out. Would we like to keep him? That's a resounding yes.

"Questions about Lucas, David Ngog and Ryan Babel are based on judgements and decisions that were made before I arrived at the club and I find them very difficult to answer.

"They have all worked hard to get into the team. Lucas and David Ngog have succeeded and Ryan Babel got his first big chance on Monday and took it with both feet."

Hodgson has been around long enough – and knows the machinations of the transfer market well enough – to know that after the festive season comes the silly season as he was forced to deny Liverpool are interested in a plethora of potential signings.

Ashley Young, Ronaldinho and Ajax captain Luis Suarez have all been linked with Liverpool while it has also been suggested that defender Glen Johnson may be leaving.

"I've got to say, Ronaldinho and Suarez are players we've never even thought about," Hodgson added.

"I wouldn't have thought there is a manager in the Barclays Premier League who hasn't given Ashley Young a thought at some stage or another.

"But giving a player a thought and thinking he's a good player, and signing him are two vastly different things.

"I could give you quite a long list of players playing in the Barclays Premier League who I admire and think are very, very good.

"[And] as far as I'm concerned, Glen Johnson will be a Liverpool player certainly for as long as his contract and possibly beyond that. We're very happy with him. He's a top-class player, an England international – why should we want to lose him?"