Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has warned club captain Steven Gerrard that he could spend time on the substitutes’ bench after returning to full fitness.
Gerrard, who will leave Anfield at the end of the season in order to join MLS outfit LA Galaxy, is expected to be fit for Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Blackburn after missing the Reds’ previous six matches with a hamstring injury.
But Rodgers says that no player - including Gerrard - has a “God-given” right to walk back into Liverpool’s starting line-up.
Rodgers: Gerrard has no 'God-given' right
"There is no-one in the squad who has a God-given right to walk straight into the team," Rodgers was quoted as saying by BBC Sport. "I have shown in my time here that players who are performing well, irrespective of price or status, they play - simple as that.
"Steven is very much a team man and if he was on the bench because the team was in good form and playing well, I think everyone respects that."
Liverpool performing well without Gerrard
Liverpool have certainly performed well without their talismanic skipper, having won five of their previous six fixtures in all competitions.
Their one defeat in that run came in the Europa League against Besiktas, but the team’s recent form in the Premier League has been exceptional.
Liverpool have lost just one of their previous 18 league fixtures - and have subsequently given themselves real hope of securing a top-four finish.
Rodgers’ side currently sit fifth in the Premier League table, two points behind fourth-placed Manchester United, and have the momentum behind them to seal Champions League football at Anfield for a second successive season.
Should Rodgers drop Joe Allen for Gerrard?
In recent matches, Rodgers has set up with Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson as his central midfield duo - and both have performed exceptionally well in Gerrard’s absence.
Breaking up that partnership in order to accommodate Gerrard, who has scored six goals and provided one assist in the Premier League this term, would be a gamble - even against Championship opposition.
Liverpool have a real chance of not only securing a top-four finish but also of winning the FA Cup for the first time since 2006, when Gerrard’s heroics famously helped the Reds defeat West Ham in one of the most thrilling finals of modern times.
Gerrard is no longer the same all-action hero, but the 34-year-old still has his qualities and will be keen to play an instrumental role if Liverpool are to win the FA Cup this season.
That would be a fitting way to end his 17-year Liverpool career - but would he make the starting line-up if the Reds reach the final at Wembley on May 30?
Liverpool fans: should Joe Allen make way for Steven Gerrard this weekend? Have your say in the comments below!