Rodgers: Joe will be a revelation
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is convinced former Swansea midfielder Joe Allen will become a "revelation" for the Anfield club.
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The 22-year-old followed Rodgers from south Wales for £15million in the summer and settled straight into a first-team place.
Recent performances have dipped slightly but the Reds boss has excused those and believes the Wales international will prove to be a key figure in the club's revival.
"I think he's stepped up. Joe has come in and the biggest credit you can give him is the supporters have really taken to him," said the manager.
"Normally it takes players time to adjust to Anfield and the size of this club and the transition has been fairly smooth.
"In the last couple of games he's not been at the level he would want to be but there are all sorts of reasons: he's been playing a lot and he's just become a father so he's had many sleepless nights.
"But he will be a revelation for the club. He's been terrific and I am sure that will continue over the next number of years."
Allen, who was cheered by the visiting fans during Swansea's Capital One Cup victory at Anfield last month, has had to restrict his game to compensate for Lucas' injury.
He has carried the defensive duties in midfield in the Brazil international's but that dynamic could be about to change with his senior colleague set for a return next weekend.
"Since he has been here he has been asked to play a more defensive role purely because of the loss of Lucas," added Rodgers.
"It is important you have a defined player who can sit and control the zone and that was something which was even apparent against Young Boys (who scored a late equaliser to draw 2-2 in their midweek Europa League tie).
"If your balance isn't right in midfield then you can get exploited.
"Joe has done well because he knows exactly what I'm after having worked with me for a couple of years
"He gives that balance but there is no doubt he has a lot to offer on the other side, going forward, getting between the lines, driving into the box and driving into the area.
"I think being classed as a world-class player - and Joe himself will say there is a long way for him to go before he is called that - as a footballer you don't need to be a scorer of goals.
"We see a number of players perform a function in a team at the top role and if you can do that and do it consistently that defines whether you are world-class or not."
The sight of Lucas playing a competitive fixture, albeit for the second string, was well overdue.
Having made his comeback from cruciate knee ligament surgery a year ago he managed just four appearances - only two in the Barclays Premier League - before a thigh problem sidelined him.
Rodgers is keen to get the 25-year-old as soon as possible.
"It will take a number of games but you saw him over the course of pre-season he was getting better and better and even at the start of that Man City game (in which he got injured) how he pressed the ball was good.
"He was out for a long time with his knee for a long time, came back and then did his thigh, but he is a brilliant professional, has a great football brain and knows the ideas we're trying to implement here.
"Hopefully he will have another good week next week and by next weekend he won't be too far away.
"Lucas is a top professional, an international player, and he's got good experience in this country so when you've got someone of that calibre coming back, it certainly makes you better."