I think we all knew this was coming when we saw that Lucas couldn't put any weight on it before being stretchered off. If you've watched sports for a while, you kind of just know when something's not just a sprain or a bruise. You tell yourself different because hope is part of being a supporter, but deep down you know.
Before I get to what happens with the team now, I can't really express how awful I feel for Lucas. I can't think of a player, and not just any Liverpool player but any player on any team I'm a fan of, who won fans over more convincingly from a spot of such disapproval. We've talked about it here many times, but it was just a couple years ago when the word "Lucas" sounded to me the same as "Brussel sprouts" sound to a 6 year old. I would even make that face, eyes closed with tongue out and the requisite, "Blech!". All it took was one season of dominance, when everything just clicked into place for him, that I realized what he could be, and what he is. Is there a better player at his position in the Premier League? One doesn't jump off the top of your head, does it? Maybe Scott Parker, probably Nigel De Jong and...that might be it.
I worry what happens to Lucas from here. These things are just nails to recover from. Lucas was never the most mobile as it is, but his anticipation and IQ always seemed to have him in the right place. But he'd only just eliminated the constant fouling from his game, even when he became a spawn from hell. Will those two attributes be enough when he's a half step slower, which he almost certainly will be after full recovery? It may be two years before we find out? Thankfully for him, he's only 24, and will get two more seasons to work his way back into the Brazil 11 before the biggest tournament of his life starts in his homeland. He was an automatic choice now, and for his sake I hope he is again before June 2014 rolls around. No one's worked harder for it.
As for what Liverpool do now, we already knew that they had no cover for him. Luckily, the fixture list brings about a string of teams that Liverpool should be able to get around without him. But I said that against Norwich when he was suspended, and Gerrard and Adam did their best Gerrard and Lampard impression. The easy answer is that Jay Spearing will take the role when needed for now, but Spearing seems to want to attack more than the conservative, know his role Lucas does. Can Spearing be molded? We'll all find out together. There really is no other candidate, unless you want to get radical and move either Agger or Skrtel into the role. I don't. I like Spearing, but for a long stretch? His best games were with Lucas supporting him. Not going to have that now.
The other answer is that Liverpool will have to buy in January, and quickly. I don't know what the names are, and none of them will be as good. Even less likely they'll be able to settle immediately into the team. How many valuable points will be lost while the midfield rubix cube is spun and adjusted? I don't want to think about it.
This is not a time to bemoan the sales of Aquilani or Meireles, because neither could have filled this role either. Nor will the now recalled Jonjo Shelvey, though I'm glad to see him back.
Fulham, QPR, Villa, Blackburn. Four games that even without Lucas you'd expect Liverpool to win. Newcastle away to close the year looks tough, especially with the midfield they're rocking right now. But January kicks off with the trip to Eastlands, a match Lucas would have been desperately important for. No chance a replacement will be in by then. Then there's the matter of the League Cup semifinal, when any replacement is likely to be cup tied.
You can't sugarcoat this. You can't make it better. What a wretched day.