Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has admitted the support of new manager Brendan Rodgers has helped to fuel his return from injury.
The 25-year-old Brazil international spent seven months on the sidelines after damaging his cruciate ligament in November, but has returned to action during the club's North American tour. Lucas revealed Rodgers made a point of telling him he would have a part to play, and that was a major boost as he fought his way back to full fitness.
He told the club's official website: "On my first day back in Liverpool, he spoke with me and said I was in his plans. Those words helped me to relax a little bit more because he was a new manager coming in and everyone wants to impress. "
Lucas added: "I was coming back from an injury and knew I wouldn't be at the same level as the other players.
"It gave me the confidence to progress slowly and I am really happy to have his support from the beginning.
"When a manager says great things about you, it always gives you extra confidence and motivation - but I was already motivated enough. I am at a big club and very happy to play for this club.
"It's just a question of time and being patient. He has been very important from the first day."