Liverpool have been dealt a huge blow in their bid to finish in the top-four of the Premier League this season following the news that midfielder Lucas Leiva is expected to be sidelined for up to two months after sustaining a knee ligament injury. The Brazil international suffered the problem just 20 minutes after coming on in the second half of his side’s 2-2 draw to Aston Villa following a challenge with Fabian Delph.
Scans after the game indicated the 27-year-old damaged the ligament in his right knee and now faces a significant spell on the sidelines, handing Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers a midfield headache ahead of a crucial part of the season.
Rodgers has been using Steven Gerrard in a more defensive midfield role but had been hoping to allow the England captain to take a more attacking role with Leiva returning in his deeper role.
With the Brazilian now ruled out of action for a significant spell of time, Rodgers has admitted he is confident Gerrard can continue in Leiva’s defensive role for the time being, although the club may be forced to bring in cover as they look to cling on to fourth spot in the Premier League.
“It’s something Steven and I have spoken about for a while. I thought he did very well in that role at Stoke. The mix of his game was excellent,” admitted Rodgers.
“It’s a special type of player who can play that position. Lucas Leiva has played there outstandingly well for us, Joe Allen has played it well and I think Steven Gerrard can play it because of his personality.”
Liverpool’s sensational start to the season may have faltered slightly over the Christmas period but the club are still in a strong position to clinch a return to the Champions League following their four year absence from the tournament.
While the goalscoring exploits of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have often taken the headlines, much of the club’s success so far this season has come from the solidity provided by having Leiva anchoring the midfield.
The Brazilian’s injury could open the door for Joe Allen to try and cement himself in this Liverpool midfield. The Welshman has again been restricted to a bit-part role under Rodgers this season, but Leiva’s absence from the team could be the opportunity for Allen to prove he belongs in the team.
While Leiva will be hoping to get back to action for Liverpool as soon as possible, the midfielder will know his place in Brazil’s World Cup squad could well depend on him coming back from this injury and getting some regular game time under his belt before the end of the season.
Leiva has been regular member of the Brazilian squad under Luiz Felipe Scolari since his return to the job in 2012 and had been tipped by Betway.com to be in the host nation’s 23-man squad for this summer’s World Cup.
Written by Alex Corcoran
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