Liverpool midfielder Lucas cannot wait to play for the club again as he closes in on a return to the first team after seven months out injured.
The Brazilian has joined up with the rest of the squad at their Harvard-based pre-season training camp and is looking to prove his fitness ahead of the English Premier League season.
The 25-year-old suffered a horror knee ligament injury in December 2011 and has defied the medical team’s belief that he would be out until September, recovering enough to showcase his talents to new boss Brendan Rodgers in the club’s upcoming friendlies.
Ahead of Liverpool’s opening pre-season game against Toronto, Lucas told reporters: “It’s been a long seven, eight months for me, recovering. But I’m feeling well and better every single day, recharging, and getting my confidence back.
“I think tomorrow will be an important step. (I’m) looking forward to coming back and wearing the Liverpool shirt again – that I missed a lot.
“At the beginning the time of the recovery was nine months but luckily I could come back a bit early. I really put up targets in my head and I wanted to be available for pre-season.
“I’m available now and I’m sure I’ll be fit. When I feel comfortable I’m sure the manager and the medical staff will give me the confidence to go to the pitch and play.”
With a long-term injury comes the fear of how it can affect a player’s game, but the defensive midfielder feels he can replicate some of his best form in a Liverpool shirt by being patient.
“I don’t know how long it will take. I’m not worried. I think I’ll get to the level I was before, but I cannot rush myself,” Lucas said.
“I was playing well and I was enjoying a lot, but injuries come and go and I just have to be patient now. Of course I will be working to get back as quick as possible (to) the level that I was.”
Rodgers, meanwhile, was equally enthusiastic about Lucas’ return to the first-team fold, saying: “I’ve only been in the club a short period of time.
“When I first arrived everyone told me about how special he was as a player and a character. But he’s even better than that when you meet him in real life and you see how hard he works.
“Like he said before, the injury that he’s had is normally a nine months before you get back at all. So he’s back two months early. You only do that through one thing: sheer determination and hard work. He’s the ultimate professional.
“He’s going to be a brilliant player for me in my career at Liverpool. I’m just looking forward to seeing him back fully fit.”