Rodgers tells flops to follow Lucas
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes some of his out-of-favour players could learn a lot from the example set by midfielder Lucas Leiva.
The Brazil midfielder seamlessly slotted back into the team for the 1-0 victory over Southampton in his first appearance for three months after a thigh strain. His performance underlined just how important he is to the side and further highlighted how much he has grown into a key figure after a difficult start to life at Anfield.
"I think he is a wonderful example," said the Northern Irishman after Daniel Agger headed in Glen Johnson's cross for his first goal of the season at the end of a dominant first half against the Saints.
Lucas was signed by former boss Rafael Benitez from Gremio for £5million in 2007 but despite enjoying the support of the manager fans quickly turned on the then 20-year-old, criticism which left him distraught at times.
Rodgers believes the likes of Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, big-money signings who have failed to impress in their first 16 months, could learn much from the Brazilian.
Rodgers added: "I know it was difficult for him as I have spoken to him at length about when he was sat in tears sometimes in the changing room - it was so difficult for him. But what you have to have is that inner belief and the support around you.
"I am sure in those early stages he would have had that and it allowed him to continue to fight and his own personality has seen him win through and now he is very important.
"It will be the same for the other guys. Everyone gets the opportunity and I would like to give the players the hope they can succeed.
"So it might not have been so easy for some players but everyone is important to me and they all have a part to play."