LONDON (AP) – After playing only 71 minutes of Premier League football so far this season, Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva is ready to make his return against Southampton on Saturday.
And for the Brazil international, it couldn't come at a better time.
''I have been watching games from the stands and now I want to help the team to get the points that we really need at the moment,'' Lucas said. ''December and January are key months for teams in the league, so it's important for us to get as many points as we can.''
Lucas hurt his knee last season, and then injured right thigh in August, keeping him on the sidelines for most of 2012.
Liverpool has struggled without him. The 18-time champions are in 12th place with only three wins in 14 Premier League matches.
''We need three different types (of midfielders),'' Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said. ''One who is maybe more defensive, another who can link the game and still get forward and another who can push on into the box and get goals.''
Lucas would be expected to take on the defensive role, while Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard would go for goals.
Lucas was signed from Brazilian club Gremio in 2007. He was Liverpool's Young Player of the Year in 2009-10, and then Player of the Year the following season.
''I have been out for a long time so I think that my performance will get better as I get more games, but I am really looking forward to the weekend,'' Lucas said. ''It's another step forward. I think it will be like a fresh start for me.''