Welcome back, Lucas! Liverpool midfielder makes return to training ground… on crutches
Lucas Leiva has made his first return to Liverpool's Melwood training complex following an operation on his damaged anterior cruciate ligament.
Lucas underwent surgery in Brazil after sustaining the injury during the victorious Carling Cup quarter-final win at Chelsea in November and has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
The Brazil international has now returned to Merseyside to continue his rehabilitation and hopes to be back in action for the start of the 2012-2013 term.
Welcome back: Lucas (gingerly) makes his return to the Liverpool training ground
It was initially feared that the injury – sustained in a clash with Chelsea's Juan Mata – could have ended his career.
But he is now taking his first tentative steps – albeit with the aid of crutches – on the road to recovery.
Recently, Lucas took to his Twitter account to thank those who have helped him begin his long rehabilitation.
Good to have you back: Lucas sits down to chat with Reina and Kuyt
He said: 'After 6 weeks here in Sao Paulo it is time to come back home and start the next stage of the rehab.'
He took time to sign autographs for fans
and spent time catching up with a number of his former team-mates
including Jamie Carragher, Pepe Reina and Dirk Kuyt.
Lucas's injury came as a massive blow to Reds boss Kenny Dalglish as his midfielder had started the season so well.
Flat out: Leiva was taken off on a stretcher against Chelsea in November
He has forged a successful central midfield partnership with summer signing Charlie Adam, under-taking the defensive anchor role to allow the Scotland international to play his natural passing game.
The Anfield side's progress has plateaued in recent weeks with the great leaps made under Dalglish undermined by poor performances such as the demoralising 3-1 defeat to Bolton Wanderers.