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Gerrard praises Lucas’ West Ham performance

Steven Gerrard has praised the role of Lucas Leiva in the gritty win at West Ham on Sunday, the Brazilian playing a key role after coming on as a half-time sub.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 6, 2014: Liverpool's Lucas Leiva celebrates with manager Brendan Rodgers after beating West Ham United 2-1 during the Premiership match at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lucas’ last Premier League start was in the 5-3 win at Stoke back in January, with the 27-year-old dropping to the bench in the next game against Aston Villa – another match that saw him introduced at half-time and play a key role, despite only being on the pitch 20 minutes before injury forced him off.

After two months on the sidelines, Lucas has returned to find his place in midfield difficult to reclaim, given the form of Gerrard and Jordan Henderson in particular – the latter having played every Premier League match this season.

Manager Brendan Rodgers opted to bring on Lucas to replace his compatriot Philippe Coutinho at half-time at Upton Park, changing the shape of the side in the process. With Lucas and Henderson operating on either side of Gerrard in the midfield diamond.

It was a move that worked for The Reds, controlling the game much better in the second half. And Lucas, along with Raheem Sterling too, were particularly impressive for the second 45.

“Lucas deserves a special mention,” praised Gerrard to the official Liverpool website.

“I think there was a lot of pressure on him today – the Brazil coach was here to watch him. He hasn’t played much of late, but he’s come back and worked his socks off to get fit.

It was Lucas’ excellent through ball for Jon Flanagan that led to the second penalty. “The ball he played for the second goal – people have been raving about Coutinho all year and the passes he has made – but for me, that was right up there with Brazil’s best,” explained Gerrard.

It’s refreshing to see Liverpool’s squad depth helping the side and how substitutes are affecting games in a positive manner.

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