Aston Villa defender Curtis Davies is determined to retain his place in Martin O'Neill's starting XI.
Davies signed permanently for Villa from West Bromwich Albion over the summer but had been expected to miss the beginning of the new season with an Achilles injury.
However, the 23-year-old made a surprise early return and has formed a partnership with Martin Laursen in the heart of the Villa defence.
But Davies is aware that he must maintain his form in the first team if he is to stave off competition from the likes of Zat Knight and Carlos Cuellar, who recently returned to fitness.
He told the Express & Star: "If the shirt's yours then it's more yours to lose, more than someone's to come and take it.
"To get back a month early was massive for me, so now that I've done it I don't want to lose my place. I've got through the hard bit now of getting fit so I just need to keep myself in there.
"Obviously Zat will want a place back in the team and now that Carlos is here he hasn't signed to sit on the bench, so I just need to be on my game.
"Competition breeds success. If you're not up for the competition and you just fold, then someone else will deserve to take your place.
"I'm just hoping it will improve me as a player. I'm sure hopefully with a few more games under my belt my 'A game' will start to come back."