Saturday 20 January 2018

Lucas is relishing big Wembley date


Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva is relishing the prospect of a long-awaited Wembley appearance after injury robbed him of the chance three years ago.

The Reds made three trips to the national stadium in 2012 after winning the League Cup and losing the FA Cup to Chelsea, but the Brazil international missed all of them with a serious knee injury sustained in the previous November.

But having played his part in the 1-0 quarter-final win at Blackburn, Lucas is hoping to get his chance in the last-four encounter with Aston Villa on April 19.

"Unfortunately I got an injury before we got to Wembley so I missed (the chance to play there)," he said.

"Hopefully I'll be fit and be able to play at Wembley. I've never played there, so it will be a very good experience and after many years here, to have that chance is amazing. I think everyone could see how hard we worked. We knew it was going to be a very hard game in difficult conditions, but I think we did well and we are so happy to get to Wembley and hopefully get to the final."

Victory over Blackburn intensified talk of the team giving captain Steven Gerrard, who departs for Los Angeles Galaxy, the perfect send-off as his birthday falls on the day of the final.

However, the midfielder was suspended for the tie at Ewood Park and it was Lucas's compatriot Philippe Coutinho who made the difference with a 70th-minute strike, having scored a brilliant last-minute winner in a fourth-round replay at Bolton.

Coutinho has arguably been Liverpool's best player over the last five months having not only finally seemed to have grown in stature as a playmaker but also adding goals to his armoury.

"I have known him for a very long time and I know what he's capable of doing," Lucas (above) said. "He's becoming an even bigger player for the club and he's got a long way to go in terms of age and experience, but he's already right there with the top players."

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