Lucas tips Shelvey to shine at Liverpool

Brazilian midfielder believes the 20-year-old has the ability to take his chance in the first team if it arises and hails Brendan Rodgers for having faith in him during pre-season

Lucas Leiva has tipped Liverpool youngster Jonjo Shelvey to become a key member of the Reds' squad next season.

Shelvey moved to Anfield from Charlton in 2010 and after an impressive loan spell at Blackpool last season, returned to Merseyside and made 16 appearances - scoring two goals - under Kenny Dalgish.

Lucas told The Liverpool Echo: "Jonjo is a young player, but he’s been with us for two or three seasons so we have seen every day he has a lot of quality and I think he will be a very good player for this club.

"He has been very impressive in pre-season and I am looking forward to helping him when he wants me to. Hopefully he will be a great addition this season.

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"My advice to him would be just to keep working hard and when he gets a chance, to try and take it.

"He has a little bit of experience already and played a few games last season, so I think he won’t have a problem when he has his chance - and I will try to help him on the pitch."

Lucas has returned to the Reds' side in pre-season after a knee injury prematurely ended his campaign in November last season, and the Brazilian hopes that his extensive recovery can help his career in the long term.

"I am very happy to be back and be able to play football again," he said. "I am enjoying every single minute of the [training] sessions and the games too.

"To be honest, I’ve always respected – and tried to give everything for – my career in my sessions in terms of work. But of course, an injury like I had just makes you stronger and maybe makes you change the way you think about a few things.

"It was a long rehab, but I think it will be worth it in my career. I am really happy to be back."

The 25-year-old also hailed Brendan Rodgers after the Ulsterman reassured him that he would be a part of the Reds' first-team plans, despite his injury.

He added: "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. I was coming back from an injury and knew I wouldn’t be at the same level as the other players.

"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."