Jamie Carragher hopes injury has made him stronger
Liverpool vice-captain Jamie Carragher is hopeful his two-month injury lay-off will allow him to finish the season stronger.
The centre-back celebrated his 33rd birthday in January on the sidelines as he recuperated from an operation on a shoulder dislocated at Tottenham in late November.
However, he returned to action three and a half weeks early in February's victory at Chelsea and has played four of the last five matches.
And while Carragher admits his spell out of the team at one of the busiest times of the year was frustrating he has tried to turn his absence into a plus point.
"You have to look at the positives of an injury in that it gives you a rest and takes you out of the firing line," Carragher told Press Association Sport.
"Maybe you can look back and say 'It's done me good' - but I'd much rather be playing because I love being in the firing line.
"You don't want to be out but sometimes you try to put a silver lining on it and try to kid yourself in your own head because you are devastated when you get injured.
"Any injury comes at a bad time but there were a lot of games when I was injured because it was over Christmas.
"But it has happened now. I have been very lucky with injuries throughout my career and hopefully there won't be too many more.
"Maybe the rest will prove between now and the end of the season that it has helped me."
As the oldest player in Kenny Dalglish's first-team squad, Carragher is aware more than most his days at the highest level are numbered.
But he is keen to carry on playing as long as possible and he pays close attention to his personal fitness.
"You get more mature and have an understanding of how your body works and it is a short career so you have to maximise it as much as possible," he added.
"Fitness was drummed into me when I was growing up and as you get older that becomes more apparent and you have to look after yourself.
"Once you reach 30 people start questioning your fitness or whether you have lost your ability and teams start looking for younger players so you have to look at the fitness side of it."
Carragher's determination to return swiftly helped his speedy recovery, although his surgeon Peter Brownson had to rein him in on occasions.
"The way the medical science side of the game is going now everything is a race to get back as quickly as possible because you want to be on the pitch," said the centre-back.
"When you are playing football you have targets and games to think about but when you are injured you lose that and your focus becomes getting back as quick as possible, that becomes your target.
"It was my nature to push to come back but there was no way Mr Brownson would not have let me come back if it had not been right."
Carragher returned to the £200,000 Bone and Joint Centre at Spire Liverpool Hospital, where he was treated for his recent injury, to officially open the unit last night.
The defender was also presented with a cheque for £3,000 for his 23 Foundation which raises money to benefit the local community.
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
Latest in Sport
Luis Suarez: Lionel Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo
Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies from spine injury after doing somersault celebration
Arsenal vs Hull: Gary Lineker and Piers Morgan lead criticism of Arsene Wenger after 'uncomfortable' interview with Jacqui Oatley
Angel Di Maria injury: Manchester United sweat over fitness of record signing as he is in danger of missing Chelsea clash
West Brom vs Manchester United player ratings: Saido Berahino scores highest, whilst Marcos Rojo scores lowest
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
Lord Freud hangs on as MPs of all parties 'call for his head' over disability comments