At his press conference ahead of Saturday's match against Southampton, manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed that, as expected, Lucas Leiva is now fit enough to be in contention to make his return to first team action. While expecting him to start on the weekend might be a touch overly optimistic—or, perhaps, a touch foolish given how long Lucas has been away from regular action—the safe money would be on the Brazilian midfielder seeing a good thirty minutes off the bench on Saturday.
Lucas looked the best player on the pitch when he was given sixty minutes with the U21 and reserve team last Friday against Middlesbrough, reading the play as well he ever has and stepping in to cut off lanes and intercept passes as though he hadn't missed a minute of action over the past year. At times he did appear somewhat rusty physically, and the level of competition may have been lower, but on the whole it was a hugely promising performance for Liverpool fans who have watching the club's midfield grow increasingly ineffective as the season wears on.
It will, however, be important that the player isn't given too much to do too soon—no matter how good he looked over sixty minutes against youth and fringe players and no matter how much the club's midfield might miss his presence. And on that front, it's not entirely unfair to suggest that the management of players such as Joe Allen, Steven Gerrard, and Raheem Sterling in recent weeks gives some cause for concern on that front.
All three have been near constants in Brendan Rodgers' starting eleven despite increasing fatigue levels and dipping performances, and with the manager seemingly refusing to even consider rest or rotation for those he considers his key players, it's hard not to wonder whether or not Lucas' gametime will be managed sensibly in the coming months.
In other news, Joe Cole has also been declared fit after missing out on Wednesday with a minor knock. Which might normally be a cause for snark and eye rolling, only in his last three games he's likely had more of a positive impact on Liverpool's fortunes than captain Steven Gerrard has.