Lucas Leiva insists he is not daunted by the prospect of extra competition in midfield next season.

The Brazilian has been one of Liverpool's outstanding players this term, with Opta stats placing him as the Barclays Premier League's top tackler.

As a result he is confident of still playing a key role next term even if the club decides to invest in midfield reinforcements this summer.

"I think every single season is a different season," said the Brazilian, who signed a long-term deal last month.

"I don't think I would sign a new contract if the club did not have a plan for me in the future.

"I am happy with the way I am playing. A lot of players have come already and I am still here and playing so that means they believe in my football and my qualities.

"Next season we will see what happens. They will sign players, of course, but I think I have shown I am capable of being in the team all the time.

"I have to finish well and keep that up next season, improve and fight for my place."

Only centre-back Martin Skrtel (with 45) has made more outfield appearances than Lucas (43) this season.

The midfielder added: "This season I am trying to take the responsibility more than the previous season because a couple of players have left and I want to step up and show my real qualities."

Saturday's 5-0 win over Birmingham City was the 16th successive league game Liverpool have scored in - the best run in the top flight this season.

It means Lucas and co are now just three points adrift of Europa League qualification.

"Everyone is together," said the 24-year-old.

"The team is building confidence and we just have to finish as high as possible at the end of the season.

"I think the way we are playing at the moment we deserve to be higher.

"Tottenham still have an advantage because they have one game in hand and are three points ahead but we have to make sure we win every single game and if we do we will have a happy end to the season."

Liverpool's run of good form is all the more laudable because of the absence of stars such as Glen Johnson, Steven Gerrard, Martin Kelly and Daniel Agger.

In their place Academy products like John Flanagan, Jack Robinson and Jay Spearing have all excelled.

Lucas signs his new deal

Lucas added: "We have to make sure the youngsters are comfortable and they try everything they can.

"They will make mistakes, as everyone does, but they are doing really well and we are delighted with the way they have come in and played.

"There are some important players injured but we are on a good run and they deserve to be playing at the moment."

Lucas has started alongside Jay Spearing in our last five league encounters.

"We know it is very difficult when it is your first season in the Premier League but he has come in and played really well," added the Brazil international.

"Always we are under pressure to win because we still think we can get fifth place but he has done well and is developing very quickly - and the same goes for the other younger players.

"To the younger players I am already old, but I am still learning.

"When I arrived in Liverpool a lot of people helped me to learn and that is what I am doing now, trying to give Jay some confidence on the pitch.

"The team looks good and we are happy because when fans see more young players coming in and playing well that means Liverpool have a bright future."

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