Gerrard offers Lucas support
Steven Gerrard is backing midfield colleague Lucas Leiva to embrace the added competition for places at Liverpool next season. The Brazilian midfielder, who is currently away on Copa America duty, has only recently won over a sceptical Anfield fan base. Initially branded a £5million flop, Lucas has had to work hard in an effort to become a first-team regular and an integral part of the Liverpool set-up. He finally made that breakthrough last season, with 47 appearances in all competitions marking him out as a key man for the Reds. The 24-year-old cannot afford to rest on his laurels, though, as Kenny Dalglish has been busy adding to his midfield ranks this summer. Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson have been drafted in, meaning the battle for starting berths will be fierce this season. Club captain Gerrard is guaranteed a place if fit, but he believes Lucas has the mental strength to hold down a regular role alongside him. "He has a strong, positive mentality," said Gerrard. "I've seen all the difficulties he's been through. He has basically rolled his sleeves up, worked hard and improved. "He has got stronger in the gym and has never let his head go down. "He's been prepared to fight to prove a lot of people wrong and was consistently one of our best players last season."
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