Liverpool Daily – Brazil icon eulogises Lucas whilst Cole may get chance to shine

Former Brazilian star Rai claims Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva can become a key player both domestically and for his country. Rai, who captained Brazil through the early stages of the 1994 World Cup, believes Lucas has adapted well to the demands of the Premier League but also claims his continued development at international level will only aid his club career.

Since Xavi Alonso and Javier Mascherano both left Anfield in 2009 and 2010 respectively, Lucas has been moulded into the holding midfield role and has only missed one Premier League game under Kenny Dalglish. Although many commentators argue the former Brazilian player of the year could offer his club more if deployed further forward, Rai is confident the 24-year-old’s career is making good headway.

“Lucas was so young when he first got into the Brazilian national team after making such a good start with his club (Gremio), and in my opinion his ability is at a level that justifies him being in the national team,” he added. “He has the quality to play in Liverpool’s side too. I don’t follow the Barclays Premier League closely but I think he can change people’s opinion of him because he’s got the qualities to do it. Maybe the national team is the place to give him more confidence and he can then show more with Liverpool too.”

Whilst news of Steven Gerrard’s month long lay-off was confirmed, Joe Cole may be forgiven for finding a positive in the face of the club’s adversity. Owing to injuries and poor-form the ex-Chelsea playmaker has made a wretched start to life as a Liverpool’s No 10, but as the England vice-captain now begins his rehabilitation, Cole may see the Liverpool talisman’s absence as a chance to realign the unbalanced start he has made on Merseyside. If Gerrard’s comeback is kept on track then a return to action would coincide with the Manchester City clash at Anfield on April 11, so if Liverpool’s Europa League campaign continues past Thursday’s return leg, potentially this represents four games in which Cole may get his chance to shine in Dalglish’s starting-XI.

Following the dour defeat in Braga last week, in which the Reds’ bluntness in front of goal in European competition was in evidence once again, Cole still believes his side can make the last eight of Europe’s second-tier club competition. “We know one goal in our last five away from home in Europe isn’t good enough, but we are still well capable of going through but it will be a tough night next week.”

Finally, Liverpool crashed out of the FA Youth Cup yesterday afternoon following a explosive semi-final clash against Manchester United at Anfield. Both teams finished the game with nine men, as Red’s pair Conor Coady and Stephen Sama accompanied Man Utd’s Paul Pogba and Tyler Blackett in receiving dismissals. Rodolfo Borrell’s side surrendered a two goal lead as Man Utd’s Ravel Morrison silenced the Kop with a stunning winner with just four minutes remaining.

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