Dalglish disappointed to lose Lucas
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish admits the club will be tested by the absence of injured midfielder Lucas Leiva. The Brazil international's season has been curtailed by a cruciate knee ligament injury sustained in the League Cup quarter-final victory over Chelsea in midweek.
Lucas has been one of the Reds' best players over the last two seasons and in the last fortnight, in particular, the 24-year-old has shown his worth with impressive performances against Chelsea in both the Premier League and League Cup wins and also in the 1-1 draw at home to Manchester City last Sunday.
It leaves a hole in central midfield which will take some filling. "It is a huge disappointment for everybody but more importantly for Lucas," said Dalglish. "He's had the scan and we will assess it and decide where is the best place he has to go and where he is more comfortable and they'll do what they have to do.
"We have a great deal of sympathy for Lucas. He's been playing well for us but it is part and parcel of football I suppose. We're not the only club who has an injury which means we have to fulfil our obligations by using the squad. He has been playing really well. We are disappointed he has picked up an injury but it is not career-threatening.
"Lucas is not moping about feeling sorry for himself. We can do that, we can feel sorry for him. But we cannot feel sorry for ourselves and we have plenty of people who can have a go and won't let us down. You saw at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night there were a lot of really good performances. It is at times like this you are tested but we have been happy with the squad and the results we have had reflect that."
Dalglish's immediate problem is to replace Lucas in midfield for Monday's match at Fulham. He had forged a successful central midfield partnership with summer signing Charlie Adam, undertaking the defensive anchor role to allow the Scotland international to play a more expansive game.
The two were paired together for 12 of Liverpool's 13 Premier League matches this season and were only broken up by a one-match suspension to Lucas. On that occasion, the 1-1 draw at home to Norwich on 22 October, Steven Gerrard filled a more orthodox midfield role - having made his first start of the season the previous week against Manchester United.
Unfortunately for the Reds it was the last time they saw their captain on the field as an ankle infection has sidelined him since and he will not be ready to return at Fulham. "Stevie is still progressing really well - without putting a date on his comeback - but we have to manage it," said the Scot. Jay Spearing deputised for Gerrard when he was injured at the end of last season while Jordan Henderson is comfortable in central midfield and Dalglish has also recalled Jonjo Shelvey from Blackpool.
"We are not going to start dancing on someone's grave; at the end of the day the boy is injured but we have adequate replacements there," said the Reds boss, who ruled out a recall for Alberto Aquilani, on loan at AC Milan. "Jay has done really well since I came in here and we do trust him. We believe in him and we will stand by them (the players) as long as they go out there and give what they have to give."