Lucas Leiva not back to his best yet, says Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Brazilian midfielder set to make 200th appearance tonight

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva is set to make his 200th appearance for the club tonight but manager Brendan Rodgers believes it will be some months before the Brazilian is back to his best.

The 26-year-old was sidelined for nearly nine months after a knee operation last December and although he has made 16 appearances this season his manager knows he needs time.

"Lucas will tell you himself he still has a bit to go," said the Northern Irishman.

"When you are out for a year the medics and physiotherapists will tell you to put that time on again before players are back to their best.

"He is someone that is working ever so hard at his fitness.

"He has shown a great determination and work ethic to get back to that level and his recent performances have shown he is well on his way to that recovery."

While the return of Lucas in his familiar defensive midfield role has brought some solidity to the team it is the fluidity of the team which has impressed Rodgers recently.

"We are showing flexibility in our game," added the Reds boss.

"We know the philosophy and how we want to work but it is important you are pragmatic and you can adapt.

"The players have shown that and that is great for us going forward because as we progress we need that going forward."

Anfield's visitors tonight are West Brom - who inflicted defeat in Rodgers' first Premier League match in charge on the opening day of the season.

The Reds boss stressed there were mitigating factors on that occasion - one being the red card for Daniel Agger - and he expected a different outcome this time around.

"I thought for 40 minutes we were much the better side and could arguably have been two or three goals up and then Zoltan Gera scores a wonderful goal," he said.

"We then went a man down early in the second half and from there we disappointed.

"But that was at a time when the group hadn't been together long, a lot of the international players had come back but hadn't been working long (after the European Championships).

"It was understandable but it doesn't make it (the defeat) any easier.

"It will be a totally different group with a different mentality at this stage of the season, having had the chance to work together."

PA

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