Jay Spearing has been one of the first names on Kenny Dalglish's teamsheet of late, due to a series of assured displays in the centre of the park for Liverpool.
The 23-year-old midfielder has found more chances to impress this season following a knee injury sustained by Lucas Leiva in November, which ruled the Brazilian out for the remainder of the 2011-12 campaign.
Spearing has shown himself to be a reliable stand-in for the Reds in a number of big games this year, and now wants to take his game to the next level, and prove he can be more than just a deputy.
"I played in the [FA Cup] semi-final," he told the Daily Mirror. "I have played in the big games, and that is what I wanted. Now I have got the final to aim for, and I want to play.
"That shows where I have come. I still have to go forward though. This summer my target will be different - I have to aim for the next level.
"For me, I think I've made the breakthrough into the squad and proved I can be relied on, but the step up to the next level is to be seen as a player who is in there week in, week out, even when the best players are fit."
Last summer saw the arrival of numerous new faces at Anfield, with midfield the area that was particularly strengthened following Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, and Stewart Downing's big-money moves to Merseyside.
However, Spearing is determined to show his manager that he has the potential to rival those players - and any others that may be recruited this summer - for a starting spot in the first-team next season.
"I have to prove I am good enough to play alongside Stevie G or Lucas week in, week out, not in place of them," he added. "I'm under no illusions, they are all qualities players.
"There are those two, Charlie Adam, Jordan, Jonjo - they are all players of incredible quality. It's the challenge, though, isn't it? To get there."
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