Belfast Telegraph

Hodgson defends midfield duo

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson believes the confidence within the club is typified by the performances of the likes of Maxi Rodriguez and Lucas.

The pair have not always been the most celebrated of players at Anfield but both have been heavily involved in the team's recent recovery from a poor start to the season. Lucas, mainly because he attracted so much criticism in the past, has won many plaudits and Rodriguez is enjoying his best spell since arriving from Atletico Madrid in January.

"People have not spoken much about Maxi but he has been a revelation," said Hodgson.

"He is a bit of an unsung hero at the moment, he's not getting a lot of credit but he's doing a great job at the moment.

"He has taken on board the work we have tried to do and embraced the role I have given him and interpreted it so well both offensively and defensively.

"Suggestions that he goes missing in a game are very harsh and I can produce statistics to prove he doesn't go missing. His positional play is very good, his technical ability is very good and, at the moment, with three goals he is right up there."

Lucas has had more time to establish himself, having made 141 Liverpool appearances, but it was only towards the end of last season he really started to find his feet in central midfield. The current campaign has seen him flourish and Hodgson believes the player, who turns 24 next month, finally feels at home.

"Lucas is working hard on the tactical side of his game and working hard on the shape of the team," said the 63-year-old. "He is a very intelligent player and I think it is very much that he is happy in his role.

"He knows very much what we are looking for from him and feels confident he can deliver it.

"On top of that he has that bit of extra confidence which being selected for Brazil brings - confidence for footballers is a vital ingredient."

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