- Premier League
Lucas unsure he will be fit for start of season
Liverpool midfielder Lucas is hopeful he will be fully fit in time for the new Premier League season - although the Brazilian will not be surprised if the first games of the campaign come too soon for him.
The combative midfielder is working his way back to full fitness after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in December last year, an injury that ruled him out of the remainder of the Reds' ill-fated campaign.
The 25-year-old is back at the club's Melwood training centre ahead of the new season as he ratchets up his training schedule, and remains hopeful he will be available for selection for the club's opening Premier League fixture against West Brom on August 18.
"I'll be hoping to progress every week," Lucas said. "It's still four or five weeks to the start of the new season, so it's too early to say if I'll be ready.
"Hopefully I'll be ready for the next season."
New Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has begun pre-season at the club and is currently assessing the options within his squad - but insists he already sees Lucas as a key player in the system he intends to employ.
The former Swansea manager pointed to Liverpool's fortunes last season - where they slipped down the table after Lucas' season-ending injury - as an indication of his importance to the club.
"I think Lucas has been incredible," Rodgers said. "I remember when Lucas came from Brazil, he was the captain of the team that had [Alexandre] Pato and the like. That was a good side and he was captain.
"I've known of him for a number of years and he has really shown not only his footballing ability, but his strength of character. He was a real prominent figure in the team and there was a direct relationship between the slump in form [last season] and when he came out of the side.
"It's not rocket science, when you lose one of your top players, you suffer. He's a great guy, a top player and it's good to see him mixing with the team again."