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Brazil international targets victory against Chelsea

EXCLUSIVE
By Greg Stobart | Northern Correspondent

Liverpool midfielder Lucas believes he is finally winning over the supporters after a "really bad time" at Anfield.

The Brazilian is currently in the best form of his Liverpool career after forcing his way into Roy Hodgson's starting line-up following the club's rocky start to the season.

Lucas signed from Gremio in July 2007 but has endured a difficult time on Merseyside after being heavily criticised by both the media and supporters for several below-par performances in his first three seasons at the club.

But the 23-year-old is playing with renewed confidence in the holding midfield role and feels he is now starting to prove why he was once touted as a future star.

“I'm trying to be really positive,” Lucas told Goal.com UK after Liverpool beat Napoli 3-1 in the Europa League on Thursday night. “Everyone knows I had a really bad time here but I'm working really hard and I think I'm improving.  

“I'm really pleased with my form at the moment for Liverpool and Brazil, and I'm improving as I get older and gain more experience.

“Am I appreciated more? By the media, I don't know. By the fans, definitely. Everyone can see when you are doing well on the pitch.

“Sometimes you have to be deaf but I think that our supporters back everyone, it's not different with me.

Right direction | Lucas says he is now performing to his potential for Liverpool

“Rafa Benitez had a lot of confidence in me. Roy Hodgson is a different manager but I'm starting to play now after a few games on the bench.

“I'm still young – at 23 I don't have the experience of Steven [Gerrard], Pepe [Reina] and other players. After last season I'm now completely settled in the league and the way English football is played.

“When you have confidence, things flow easier and you are willing to take more risks.”

Lucas was rested for Thursday's win but is expected to return to a starting role for the visit of Chelsea on Sunday.

Captain Gerrard struck a wonderful second-half hat-trick to down Napoli after he was brought on as a half-time substitute.

Hodgson's side are growing in confidence and Lucas insists the players are ready for the challenge of facing the Premier League table-toppers and reigning champions.

He added: “Three victories in a row – of course the mood is better now. We know how difficult it will be on Sunday because Chelsea are playing really well and scoring loads of goals.

“We can't talk too much before the game, we have to make sure we are ready and the team is ready.

“It's one of the biggest games but we are ready for the challenge. We have to attack them if we want to win but if we're too open they like to score on the counter-attack.

“They have a lot of players who are scoring a lot of goals so we have to defend well and then create our chances.”

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