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Lucas Ready to Return to the Starting Eleven Against Norwich

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Having been largely relegated to the sidelines since he returned, injury and suspension will give Lucas his chance against Norwich City—and the midfielder is ready to take it.

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Clive Rose

With Jordan Henderson ruled out due to his late red card against Manchester City and Daniel Sturridge at the very least unlikely to start due to a mild hamstring strain, Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva will both be expected to return to the starting eleven on Sunday against Norwich City. Both have at times played major roles for Liverpool this season, yet neither were likely to see much action the rest of the way barring injury and suspension.

"I've been working very hard since I got back," said Lucas, who has spent most of his time on the bench since returning from a ligament injury at the end of February. "My chances have been very limited, but I'm ready if the manager needs me. He needed me against West Ham at half-time and I think I did a good job. Now I just have to be ready, if the chance comes, to be at the same level as the team that is playing—then see what's going to happen."

Despite the calm and control he brought to midfield against West Ham, when Brendan Rodgers chose to remove Philippe Coutinho's creativity in favour of Lucas' stability, against Manchester City it was Joe Allen's running that was preferred as a second half substitute. The roles the two midfielders played in Liverpool's last two games suggests Allen is the more likely to be used to fill Henderson's box to box role.

As was seen against West Ham, though, and despite the fact many intuitively think of holding players being more valuable against bigger opposition, the more solid midfield foundation provided by a player like Lucas can be just as valuable against a side well down the table. He may not join the attack as much, but he will allow those around him to do so more freely while limiting the chances of Liverpool being hurt on the counter.

"It has been a very difficult period for me," he added, reflecting on his changed role since he missed an important six weeks of action near the beginning of Liverpool's current scintillating run of form that sees them top of the table in April. "Before the injury, I probably played 95 per cent of the games. Now, with Stevie playing in the holding position, I know my chances will be very small [but] I have to try to be positive for myself but also my teammates.

"You try to help the way you can and see if we can win this together, because the whole season counts. We're having a good season, and of course we have had a very good run in the last 10 games but it wouldn't count if we had had a bad start. Everyone that is involved has a part to play and that's why I always think I have to be ready."

With Henderson out for the next two games as well, he will have a major role to play in whether Liverpool can finally win their first league title of the Premier League era. Losing Henderson will hurt, but waiting in the wings is one of Liverpool's best players of the past few seasons, waiting to remind everybody just what he can do.