Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has welcomed the return to fitness of Lucas.

Most observers blamed Liverpool's mid-season slump on the Brazilian's absence, and that is a point not lost on the Reds' skipper.

"It was a big factor, because when he got the injury he was probably our best player, form-wise," Gerrard told the club's official website.

"He was playing superbly well, and he plays that position in the team where he does the ugly work, the work you don't really like to do: breaking up the play, protecting the back four, and when we lose the ball and teams counter-attack, he stops a lot of goals.

"It's great to have him back. He's a great person; he's great for the squad."