Massive Reds blow as knee injury may rule out Lucas for rest of season
Liverpool fear that Brazilian midfielder Lucas will miss the rest of the season with a serious knee injury. The 24-year-old underwent a scan on the blow he suffered in the later stages of his club's 2-0 Carling Cup win at Chelsea on Tuesday.
A preliminary examination immediately after the match raised concerns that Lucas had suffered cruciate damage, which will lead to an inevitable long-term absence from the game.
Liverpool were still awaiting the results of yesterday's scan last night before making any comment on the condition of the South American, but the signs do no look positive for a player who has become an integral member of Kenny Dalglish's team.
It is a measure of how much Lucas has transformed his reputation that his absence will upset Liverpool's fans as much as team-mates and coaching staff.
His injury is major blow to Liverpool's hopes of forcing their way back into the top four given his specialist role in midfield.
After being signed by Rafael Benitez for £7m from Brazilian side Gremio in the summer in 2007, Lucas initially struggled to make an impact on Merseyside.
He spent his entire youth career as a creative, attacking midfielder, but was expected to immediately reinvent himself as an anchorman -- a role in which he was clearly not comfortable at first, but has recently excelled.
Since Javier Mascherano's sale to Barcelona last season, Lucas has flourished as a like-for-like replacement, but has also shown himself to be a more technically gifted player than the Argentinian midfielder.
After winning Liverpool's Player of the Season award he was rewarded with a new contract in the summer. His performance against Manchester City last weekend was recognised by many as his best yet for Liverpool.
That makes the timing of the setback even worse for the player and the club, casting a shadow over what has been an invigorating period for Dalglish.
His side have emerged through a series of tricky fixtures in buoyant mood after two victories over Chelsea and a draw with the league leaders, Manchester City.
Dalglish's midfield options will be tested by Lucas' absence and that of captain Steven Gerrard, who hopes to return within the next month. Liverpool can call upon Jay Spearing, who was impressive against Chelsea in midweek.
Alternatively, Dalglish may give more responsibility to Jordan Henderson, who has spent most of Liverpool career so far in a wide midfield role. "I've played a lot in central midfield and people might say that's my best position," said Henderson. (© Daily Telegraph, London)