Anton Ferdinand admits he has a great opportunity to establish himself in the heart of the Sunderland defence.
Michael Turner and Titus Bramble have formed a formidable central-defensive pairing for the Black Cats so far this season, while injuries have restricted John Mensah to just two Premier League starts.
But Ferdinand has the chance to hold down a regular place as Bramble will face six weeks out if it is confirmed he needs a knee operation, while Mensah is still a fortnight away from full fitness after suffering a dislocated shoulder.
Ferdinand, 25, has had his own injury problems this season having twice been withdrawn in the first half due to hamstring problems.
He returned for only his fifth league start in Monday night's 2-2 draw with Everton, though, and is hoping to enjoy an extended run in the team.
"It's down to me now to cement my place with Titus and John out," Ferdinand told the Sunderland Echo. "We'll see in the coming weeks whether I can do that.
Difficult to shift
"Titus has been pretty difficult to shift, but that's football. I've lost my place to injury and it's a shame he has now because he's been on fire this season. He's proved a lot of people wrong.
"When he gets back I'm sure the competition will be strong which is good for Sunderland football club."
Ferdinand endured a couple of shaky moments against Everton as he was twice caught out by long balls over the defence but the chances were missed by Tim Cahill and then Jermaine Beckford.
The ex-West Ham defender was relieved to come through unscathed as Sunderland maintained their unbeaten home record and the Black Cats will aim to go five unbeaten at Wolves on Saturday.
"I'm glad I got my chance and got through a full 90 minutes without any niggly injuries," Ferdinand added.
"Touch wood I can get through more games and consecutive games. Then my hard work can start to pay off.
"I've not been out the team this year because I've not played well, it's been because of little stupid injuries.
"It's been very frustrating but hopefully that's behind me now. The physios and myself are working hard to ensure I'm out on the pitch week in, week out."