While he hasn't yet returned to full training, Lucas Leiva has at least returned to the pitch as he attempts to work his fitness levels back up ahead of an eventual return to action. And it turns out that return to action could come earlier than the mid-December date many had penciled in when he picked up a thigh injury against Manchester City at the end of August.
"Lucas has been out on the field in the last week or so which is great," said Brendan Rodgers, updating the holding midfielder's injury status. "He's not doing multi-directional movements yet but he's doing a lot of straight-line running and endurance work.
"I'm anticipating maybe another three weeks but his professionalism is great and he'll get back probably sooner than is anticipated."
If Rodgers' hopes for his recovery turn out true, at the latest Lucas would be ready to see action for the November 25th home date against Swansea in the league, right in time for another busy stretch for the club that sees them play eight games over the final five weeks of 2012.
No matter how quickly Lucas recovers, though, it will be important for Rodgers to avoid the temptation of giving him too many minutes too soon. Joe Allen may be beginning to show the strain of being the club's only fit and competent holding midfielder, but by the time Lucas returns it will be almost an entire calendar year since he has seen regular competitive football and so carefully managing his minutes to ensure no further complications will be of paramount importance.
Still, even if Lucas will likely have to be worked back into things slowly and cautiously, that he's on track to get back on the pitch this month—and on track to get back sooner than had originally been expected—is great news for the club any way one comes at it.