Rodgers hails brilliant Lucas

  • Last Updated: July 21 2012, 19:09 BST

Brendan Rodgers has given Lucas Leiva a ringing endorsement and declared he will be integral to his new-look Liverpool team.

Lucas Leiva: Key to the team, says Rodgers

The 25-year-old has been out for seven months after he sustained a cruciate ligament injury last November, which interrupted his best Liverpool campaign to date.

Lucas' recovery is ahead of schedule and he has joined his team-mates on their pre-season tour of America.

It is something which has triggered praise from the new Liverpool chief, who views the Brazil international as integral to the success of the team.

"He's the ultimate professional," Rodgers told the club's official website.

"He is going to be a brilliant player for me in my career here at Liverpool and I'm looking forward to seeing him back fully fit.

"I've only been at the club a short period of time, and when I first arrived, everyone told me about how special he was as a player and a character, and he's even better when you meet him in real life and see how hard he works.

"The injury he's had is normally 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.

"I know that every day of his life he is fighting hard to get back, and as I said, he's not only a top footballer but a top guy as well."