Lucas Leiva
Leiva in practice this month. Photo by Reuters
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Reuters

LONDON - Liverpool's influential midfielder Lucas Leiva is set to return to first-team action at the weekend after a three-month absence with a thigh injury, manager Brendan Rodgers said yesterday.

The Brazil international has not played for the Premier League club since August 26 after suffering the injury in the warm-up to the game against Manchester City.

The 25-year-old holding midfielder, who missed six months of last season with a knee injury, played for the club's under-21 team last week and will now come into contention for tomorrow's home clash with Southampton.

"Lucas Leiva will return to the squad, which is great news because he's been working very, very hard and played the reserve game last week," Rodgers said on the club website. "It's a big boost because he's well in tune with what we're trying to do here. He's been kicking his heels on the side wanting to help his mates and the group, so I am delighted to have him back."

Lucas' return could free up Steven Gerrard to play a more attacking role. The Liverpool captain's swashbuckling instincts have been curtailed this season as he has adopted a more cautious approach playing a holding role alongside close-season recruit Joe Allen.