After returning to full training last week during the international break, assistant manager Colin Pascoe has today revealed that Lucas Leiva could see match action as soon as Friday when Liverpool's U21 reserve team take on Middlesbrough. For most Liverpool fans, this will be an event met with a mixture of excitement and fear.
"The next step is getting his strength up in training and hopefully he can get 45 minutes in the reserve game on Friday," said Pascoe. "But we'll assess him, see how he is in the next couple of days, and if he feels fine himself, then he could possibly have 45 minutes on Friday."
With Joe Allen beginning to show the strain of being the club's lone holding player over the first three months of the season and manager Brendan Rodgers so far hesitant to use Jordan Hernderson to help spell the Welshman, Lucas' return couldn't come at a better time—especially with six league matches scheduled in December that could go a long way to deciding the club's season.
If Liverpool are to have any hope of making a push for the top four and Champions League action, they will need to finish the calendar year on form, and Lucas' return to fitness will most certainly offer Rodgers and the club a welcome boost. It would be foolish to expect him to be able to step back in at top form and ready to play every game, but even short of match fitness his presence should help to secure Liverpool's midfield.
"He's been unfortunate with a lot of injuries," continued Pascoe. "I know that's part and parcel of football but it can get you down and it's nice to see Lucas with a smile on his face. When you're injured, you can't wait to go and play football again and sometimes you can't see a light at the end of the tunnel, but Lucas has kept his head down, worked hard and he's looking good in training."
If he does see 45 minutes of action against Middlesbrough on Friday and the results are encouraging, there's even a chance he could make the bench when Liverpool travel to White Hart Lane next Wednesday for a mid-week clash against Tottenham—one day shy of a year since he tore his anterior cruciate ligament against Chelsea in the League Cup.