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Lucas Recalls Career-Changing Injury Ahead of Second Leg at Chelsea

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It will not be his first return to Stamford Bridge since a knee injury that changed the course of his Liverpool career, but ahead of the second leg of their semifinal with Chelsea, Lucas commented on how he's a different player in the years that have passed.

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Since late November of 2014, Lucas has been one of the most important players in the Liverpool squad. With a faltering defense and an attack that was never going to reach the goalscoring heights of last season, Brendan Rodgers clearly needed to change the personnel and tactics of his side, and the most notable change--one that arguably saved the third-year boss' Liverpool tenure--was to bring the Brazilian midfielder back in a holding role, slowly transitioning Steven Gerrard out of a position for which he was no longer suited.

In the time that's passed since, it's clear that Lucas still offers plenty of the quality that was on display nearly every time out before his injury in 2011, and he's partnered to great effect with Jordan Henderson to give Liverpool a midfield that actually midfields for the first time in at least a season and half. It was a regular feature with him at full health and a younger, more mobile Steven Gerrard available, and at the height of his ability Lucas managed to combine well with the likes of Jay Spearing and Charlie Adam.

His long detour began in November of 2011 in the League Cup quarterfinal at Stamford Bridge, and ahead of Tuesday's second leg, a match that should see Henderson and Lucas in the starting eleven yet again, the 28-year-old recalled the injury and its impact on his career:

"Probably the lowest moment of my career came in that cup game against Chelsea when I injured my cruciate in 2011. It was obviously a difficult time. Going through all the rehab afterwards wasn't easy. But I think, mentally, it's even harder when you first get back playing because you know you are not at the same level as before and you need time to get there. You know that there is a lot of hard work ahead and you have to be patient. At those times you have to believe that the good moments will return. All the experiences in my career so far - good and bad - have helped me understand the game more.

I've realised that you can be a hero one week and a zero the next. That is the nature of football. It means I don't get too carried away when the team is winning or too down if we are not. I've also realised that you have to work hard, no matter what. Sometimes it's easy to do that when the team is on a good run and playing nice football. A striker can have a very quiet game but then score a last-minute winner and he's a hero. It's not the same for those who play in midfield or at the back I'm not a player who people from outside the club pay much attention to. But I know what I can offer the team. If people don't mention me too much, that probably means I'm doing okay."

Flying under the radar might be the hope, but the types of performances that have once again become the norm are always going to command attention, especially when they've been absent from a Liverpool side for far too long. And even when things weren't going well he was the subject of great debate; for some he still is, but for the majority it seems that the focus on Lucas has only been positive, and that rumors of an exit this month or in the summer can't go away soon enough.