Lucas steps up return with hour-long Liverpool Under-21s appearance

The midfielder has been out with a thigh injury since August but is closing in on a first-team comeback after getting through 60 minutes for Rodolfo Borrell's side
By David Lynch at Kirkby Academy

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva stepped up his return from injury with an hour-long appearance for the club's Under-21s side on Friday afternoon.

The Brazilian has been out since August after suffering a thigh muscle tear during an early season clash with Manchester City, a blow which followed an eight-month absence due to a cruciate knee ligament injury.
11/2 Liverpoool are 11/2 with Bet365 to finish in the Premier League's top four

Having been back in training since last Friday, the 25-year-old started in midfield for Rodolfo Borrell's men as they posted a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough.

He was replaced on the hour mark by Craig Roddan, after an impressive showing in which his willingness in the tackle and crisp passing were fully evidenced.

Brendan Rodgers will be delighted by the news of Lucas' smooth return, having seen his side concede a late leveller from the position in which the former Gremio man operates against Young Boys on Thursday evening.

Liverpool Under-21s ensured they will finish at the top of Group 3 of the Professional Development League with victory thanks to a second-half Adam Morgan strike.

The young Reds remain the only unbeaten team in the country at that level ahead of the Elite Group Stage.