LUCAS LEIVA will step up his comeback from injury this week by taking part in his first competitive game of football – though it is unclear how far away he is to a first-team return.
The Brazilian midfielder is being lined up to play as one of the eligible over aged players in Liverpool under-21s’ game against Middlesbrough on Friday.
Lucas has not played since picking up a thigh injury during August’s Premier League game with Manchester City but is closing in on a welcome return.
The 25-year-old was back in full training at Melwood last week and Reds assistant manager Colin Pascoe says it was great to see him.
But now Lucas is looking to pick up the pace in his comeback by playing for Liverpool’s second string this week before targeting a return to Brendan Rodgers’ first team squad in the coming weeks.
“The next step is getting his strength up in training and hopefully he can get 45 minutes in the reserve game on Friday,” said Pascoe.
“But we’ll assess him, see how he is in the next couple of days, and if he feels fine himself, then he could possibly have 45 minutes on Friday.”
Reports earlier this week had suggested Lucas could even have made tomorrow night’s squad for the Europa League tie with Young Boys.
However, it now appears Middlesbrough on Friday will be his first taste of action.
Given that Lucas missed the majority of last season with cruciate ligament damage in his knee, Liverpool are certain to be cautious in bringing him back into the first team fold.
“It’s fantastic to see Lucas back in training,” added Pascoe.
“He’s a good player and it’s nice to get him back.
“He’s been unfortunate with a lot of injuries. I know that’s part and parcel of football but it can get you down and it’s nice to see Lucas with a smile on his face.
“He’s a great professional. He’s done his recovery and rehab. When you’re injured, you can’t wait to go and play football again and sometimes you can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, but Lucas has kept his head down, worked hard and he’s looking good in training.”