Lucas confident for future

The Brazil international was a much-derided figure among fans

during his first three years after signing from Gremio in July

2007. However, following the departure in successive summers of

Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano the 24-year-old has grasped the

challenge of added responsibility and is enjoying the best form of

his Reds career. In January Liverpool tried and failed to sign

Blackpool’s central midfielder Charlie Adam and it seems likely

they will renew their efforts in the summer. Other signings, in

addition to the return of injured captain Steven Gerrard, are

expected but a confident Lucas welcomes the competition it will

bring. “I think every single season is a different season,” said

the Brazilian, who signed a long-term deal last month. “I don’t

think I would sign a new contract if the club did not have a plan

for me in the future. “I am happy with the way I am playing. A lot

of players have come already and I am still here and playing so

that means they believe in my football and my qualities. “Next

season we will see what happens. They will sign players, of course,

but I think I have shown I am capable of being in the team all the

time. “I have to finish well and keep that up next season, improve

and fight for my place.” Only centre-back Martin Skrtel (with 45)

has made more outfield appearances than Lucas (43) this season. In

previous campaigns he was criticised by supporters for being a

favourite of former manager Rafael Benitez but this term has fully

justified the belief the Spaniard had in him when others had their

doubts. Being seen as a key player has also helped build the

player’s self-belief. “This season I am trying to take the

responsibility more than the previous season because a couple of

players have left and I want to step up and show my real

qualities,” he added. “We have to make sure the youngsters are

comfortable and they try everything they can. “They will make

mistakes, as everyone does, but they are doing really well and we

are delighted with the way they have come in and played. “There are

some important players injured but we are on a good run and they

deserve to be playing at the moment.”