Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva admits being forgotten by Liverpool fans was a constant worry of his during his time out with injury.
The 25-year-old has only played two league games for the Merseyside club in a year after suffering lengthy injuries but has recently returned to full training and made his comeback last Friday when he played an hour for the under-21 side against Middlesbrough.
Brendan Rodgers revealed the midfielder would be back in the squad for the visit of Southampton, and Lucas thanked the fans for their support.
“Ever since my first injury, the fans have been very important to me,” Lucas told the club’s website.
“When you don’t play, you think that people might forget about you but I think it has been completely the opposite.
“People send me nice messages and they say that they really miss me. So this has given me the confidence to come back.”
The former Gremio youth player also says the support he has received from within the club has helped him during his recovery.
“The players, on a daily basis, have really supported me,” Lucas said.
“I remember when Luis (Suarez) scored and he had a message for me on his shirt. These are the small things that really mean a lot and they keep you going. Now it’s the time for me to repay that and help them.
“Brendan Rodgers has been very good to me since my first day. When he arrived I was just recovering from the knee injury, so he gave me a lot of confidence and was always very clear about his plans for me. He has tried to keep me very calm and not tried to rush me, in terms of my rehabilitation.
“I am really excited to be involved (against Southampton).
“As the manager said, I will be available for selection and if I get the opportunity to try to help, I have to be very patient.
“I have been out for a long time, so I think that my performance will get better as I get more games. But I am really looking forward to the weekend. It’s another step forward.
“I think it will be like a fresh start for me. I feel stronger and I am really looking forward to meeting the fans again at Anfield. I have been watching games from the stands, and now I want to help the team to get the points that we really need at the moment.
“We are getting to the middle of the season now and it is vital that we start to get more points.
“December and January are key months for teams in the Barclays Premier League, so it’s important for us to get as many points as we can.”