Jamie Carragher Concedes His Days as Automatic Starter May Be Over, Accepts New ChallengeJamie Carragher is ready to accept a new reality. The Telegraph reports the veteran defender sees his omission from the last Sunday's win over Chelsea as a signal that he is no longer guaranteed a place in the Liverpool team.

Carragher suffered a calf injury at Stoke City on Oct. 26, which kept him out of action for nearly a month. Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel have paired in central defense to great effect during his absence. The 33-year-old Carragher returned to fitness last week, but Kenny Dalglish stuck with the Agger-Skrtel partnership against Chelsea and its free-flowing attack.

"I am not the future of Liverpool," Carragher said. "Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates are. But I can still be part of the present for a few more years. It's only one game I've not been selected, so it's not the end yet.

"You want to be involved and you're disappointed when you are not, but I am aware my situation is changing over the next few years. Last weekend may have been one of the first signs of that."

After playing nearly 700 games for Liverpool — second most in club history — one might expect the LFC vice-captain to demand a place in the team. Carragher did no such thing after the Chelsea game and sees Kenny Dalglish's decision as a new challenge in this new phase of his career.

"Over the last decade if I had missed a match I would have gone straight back into the team when available," he said. "This time I didn't and I have to accept it, agree with it and understand it. I was out for a couple of weeks and the lads who came in did really well. I've always said mental strength is important in every player and this is another test of that."

Carragher recently said he might end his playing career in the next year or two. With his legacy as Liverpool player secure, his handling of this new role — a player who is not an automatic starter — will be an interesting chapter in the LFC legend's career.

It will also set the modern-day standard for behavior at the club. If he accepts a diminished role with class and grace, other Liverpool players will likely follow suit. If he does the opposite, it will grant licenses to others to cause disharmony in the locker room.

Photo via Flickr/Stars Football