West Ham v Liverpool: Brendan Rodgers praises Lucas Leiva for his attitude as midfielder returns to fitness after three month absence
Rodgers did concede that Leiva's absence has allowed him to field a more attacking line-up
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has praised the return of defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva ahead of the Brazilian defender’s comeback after a spell on the sidelines, just in time for the Reds’ final title push.
The 4-0 victory over Tottenham last weekend sent Liverpool top of the table although they could slip to second again when they face West Ham on Sunday should Chelsea beat Stoke the day before.
Leiva has been out since January after damaging knee ligaments in the 2-2 draw with Aston Villa, with Liverpool going 10 matches unbeaten since the stalemate at Anfield that has seen their rise to the summit.
The 27-year-old was on the bench for the 3-0 victory over Manchester United last month in which he managed to play the final four minutes, and Rodgers has praised the midfielder for his attitude during his enforced spell on the sidelines.
“I've got to say Lucas has been absolutely incredible in his attitude,” Rodgers told the Liverpool Echo. “It's been hard for him because he played a high percentage of the games when he was fit and obviously then got his injury.
“The team has done really well in his absence. Steven [Gerrard] in that role is a world-class operator. He has taken to it really well.”
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Rodgers did concede that Leiva’s absence had allowed him to field a more attacking team in recent months, clearly demonstrated by the club’s goal tally this season of 88 in the league – eight more than their nearest competitors Manchester City.
“The difference now is that rather than playing with two defensive midfield players we are playing with one,” Rodgers added. “There is more emphasis on the attacking element. But I have to pay homage to Lucas because he's been first-class with his attitude and his work.
“He has made it known to me that he just wants to help whenever he's called upon - whether it's for one minute or 90 minutes he will be ready.”
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