Liverpool's lack of depth has been a concern all season, but it's a testament to the form of those who have stepped up in the throes of each injury crisis that the players they've replaced don't just waltz back into the starting line-up after making a full recovery. It's left previous knocked-on starters languishing on the bench at several points this year, and unfortunately it's Lucas Levia's turn at the moment.
"I’ve got to say Lucas has been absolutely incredible in his attitude," Brendan Rodgers told the Liverpool Echo. "It’s been hard for him because he played a high percentage of the games when he was fit and obviously then got his injury. The team has done really well in his absence. Steven [Gerrard] in that role is a world class operator. He has taken to it really well.
"The difference now is that rather than playing with two defensive midfield players we are playing with one. There is more emphasis on the attacking element. But I have to pay homage to Lucas because he’s been first class with his attitude and his work. He has made it known to me that he just wants to help whenever he’s called upon – whether it’s for one minute or 90 minutes he will be ready."
Lucas is not a complainer. Like the rest of his teammates, he is clearly exemplifying the "team first" attitude permeating the dressing room this season. Being shut out of the line-up by his captain is not the worst reason to be on the bench, and with Gerrard a yellow card away from a two match ban, Lucas' services might be called upon sooner rather than later.
Barring a temporary ban for Gerrard, though, it's hard to see how Lucas makes it back into the line-up for the remainder of the season. Gerrard is a bulletproof starter under Rodgers, and with the Gerrard-is-totally-a-DM-because-Brenno-says-so experiment finally returning something positive each week, the manager is unlikely to shoehorn Lucas back into a formation featuring two defensive midfielders just for the sake of starting the Brazilian.
With Champions League qualification so close you can taste it, there's a strong sense that many players on the periphery merely need to bide their time until next season when there will be a flood of extra games clogging up the weekly schedule. While Lucas isn't exactly out of favour at the moment, his position is already filled; this could very well change in the fall, and until then he will keep preparing for each match by giving 147%, just like the manager wants.