Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva admits overcoming a psychological hurdle is the next step in his bid to regain full fitness.
The Brazil international has done months of rehabilitation on the physical side after surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee in December. But with the new season looming on the horizon, signalled by the return to training of all the players not involved in summer internationals on Wednesday, Lucas knows the next test will come when he returns to the pitch.
"The first four weeks I saw my knee it was very bad looking and it comes through your head that you might not be at the same level you were before," he told Press Association Sport. "But at the same time you see big players who had the same injury come back and be even better."
He added: "There is no need for me to be scared. Rather than stay protecting myself I need to work on my head as well to come back and play the same way I was playing before.
"One of the things which made me strong in the team was how aggressive I was in tackles and things like that so I cannot lose that."
Lucas has split his rehabilitation between the club's Melwood training ground and his former club Gremio in Brazil but now he is back on Merseyside full-time.
He admits he has been working so hard since coming off his crutches that he has actually spent more time in work than he would have done had he still been playing.
"I had less time [to myself] than before," he added. "When you are playing you have a few days off and we train only in the mornings but I have been at Melwood 9am to 4pm every day.
"The focus has been only the knee and I think that is the only way I will be back quicker and stronger because if I had too many days off I don't think I will be feeling well."
Lucas would like to be fit for the start of the season but as that is in less than a month's time, with a Europa League qualifier on August 2, he will not rush himself back.
Updated 05/07/2012 09:17:29