LUCAS LEIVA returned to pre-season training with Liverpool yesterday, and revealed the serious knee injury he sustained last season had initially left him fearing for his career.
Lucas was among a group of Reds players who returned to Melwood for a meeting with Rodgers and his staff on Wednesday.
The Brazilian midfielder has been sidelined since suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee back during a Carling Cup tie at Chelsea back in December, but is on course to return to action in time for the new Premier League season, which starts for Liverpool with a trip to West Bromwich Albion on August 18.
And the 25-year-old, who had established himself as one of the Reds’ key players prior to his injury, admits there had been times during his rehabilitation when he wondered if he would ever be able to play again.
Lucas said: “It has been very hard for me because I have never been out for a month so you can imagine five months when I can’t play and only watch the games.
“I just had to cope with the injury and the time. As soon as you get the injury you know you will be out for many months and you start to think about other things.
“The most difficult period for me was when I was on crutches for two months, especially the first four weeks after the surgery when the knee was swollen.
“To be honest, in a few moments I thought I couldn’t come back any more or even walk because the way I looked at my knee – I felt scared.
“But as soon as I started the rehab it is unbelievable how your body reacts.”
Lucas has made 183 appearances for the Reds since arriving at Anfield in 2007, and the former Gremio man says he is hoping to play his part in the new-look Reds under Rodgers.
He added: “My main target now is to be 100 per cent recovered and be okay to play a part in next season.
“I don’t have too many experiences with injuries because fortunately I had none in my time at Liverpool previously, so it has been a learning process for me as well and I am very happy with the progress.
“I think I am progressing very well in terms of the knee, strength and fitness-wise. I am working every week and trying to improve every week and the main target is to be fit for the new season, if not for the start then after a few weeks.
“I am confident I will be back at the same level because I know how hard I am working.
“There is no need for me to be scared. Rather than stay protecting myself, I need to work on my head as well to come back and play the same way I was playing before. One of the things which made me strong in the team was how aggressive I was in tackles and things like that, so I cannot lose that.”
Also among those returning to Melwood this week were Joe Cole, who has returned from a loan spell with Lille, Maxi Rodriguez, who has been linked with a move to Argentine side Newell’s Old Boys, and Charlie Adam, who himself has been missing since March with a knee injury.