Rodgers tells his flops to follow Lucas

Liverpool 1 Southhampton 0
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes some of his out-of-favour players could learn a lot from the example set by midfielder Lucas Leiva.

The Brazil midfielder seamlessly slotted back into the team for the victory over Southampton in his first appearance for three months after a thigh strain and his performance underlined just how important he is to the side.

Lucas was signed by former boss Rafael Benitez from Gremio for €6.5m in 2007 but, despite enjoying the support of the manager, fans quickly turned on the then 20-year-old.

Rodgers believes Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, big-money signings who have failed to impress in their first 16 months, could learn much from the Brazilian.

“I think he is a wonderful example,” said the Northern Irishman after Daniel Agger headed in Glen Johnson’s cross for his first goal of the season at the end of a dominant first half against the Saints.

“I know it was difficult for him as I have spoken to him at length about when he was sat in tears sometimes in the changing room – it was so difficult for him.

“But what you have to have is that inner belief and the support around you. I am sure in those early stages he would have had that and it allowed him to continue to fight and his own personality has seen him win through and now he is very important.

“It will be the same for the other guys. Everyone gets the opportunity and I would like to give the players the hope they can succeed. ”

Lucas’ reappearance, after what he described as the worst year of his life after only 74 minutes of Barclays Premier League action following knee surgery 12 months ago, gave Liverpool a whole new dynamic.

His anchor role in front of the back four allowed midfield partners Steven Gerrard and Joe Allen, as well as Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique, to push forward more and led to one-way traffic.

In the 14 attempts in the opening 45 minutes Jonjo Shelvey smashed a shot back off the inside of a post while Luis Suarez crashed a free-kick against the crossbar which eventually led to the goal.

Lucas is hoping for a fresh start after dismissing his two Premier League appearances, and two in Europa League qualifiers.

“I didn’t count the other comeback because it was so short,” said the 25-year-old.

“I was really looking forward to the game and the feeling against Southampton was the same as my first match for Gremio.

“I played more minutes [88] than people were expecting and now it is just a question of games and training sessions, that is the only way I will get to the level I was. I think it was really positive, especially as it is a year since my first injury.

LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): J Reina; G Johnson, M Skrtel, D Agger; Lucas (Carragher 88), J Allen (Henderson 69) JJ Shelvey; S Gerrard, J Enrique; Sterling; Suarez.

SOUTHAMPTON (4-4-1-1): P Gazzaniga; J Fonte, L Shaw, N Clyne, M Yoshida; M Schneiderlin, A Lallana, J Puncheon (Jay Rodriguez, 78), J Cork (Steven Davis, 70); G Ramírez; R Lambert.

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).


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