Burnley defender Matt Lowton ready to fight for his shirt as summer signing Connor Roberts returns to full fitness
Defender Matt Lowton knows that he has a fight on his hands in his bid to keep hold of the right back spot at Burnley.
The 32-year-old full back has started all seven Premier League games for the Clarets so far this season.
But the club's dealings during the summer transfer window means there are now several others breathing down his neck.
With the queue for his position getting bigger, he said: "It pushes you on to make sure that you're right and to ensure that you're looking after yourself on the pitch and training right.
"When it comes to the game you've got a job to do and you've got to make sure you do it. With the way the game is, if you're not performing you're going to get replaced.
"It's up to you, if you are in the team, to try and stay in the team. It's encouraging when you keep getting picked because it shows that you're doing something right. "But the last game doesn't mean that you're going to play the next one so it's up to you to make sure that you're doing things right everyday."
Phil Bardsley, who was given the nod for the Carabao Cup ties against Newcastle United and Rochdale, has been keeping Lowton on his toes.
The ex-Scotland international has made 70 appearances in all competitions for Sean Dyche's side since re-signing for a second stint at Turf Moor in 2017.
However, Connor Roberts, signed from Swansea City, has thrown his hat into the ring following his return to full fitness while Irishman Nathan Collins is also able to operate in that role.
Lowton, who has played 182 times since his £1m switch, said: “I wouldn’t say it worries me – it’s just the way the game is at this level, you need competition for places.
"With injuries and suspensions, he [Sean Dyche] will need other players to cover. It’s good for the squad and the main thing is that the squad achieves its goals.
“You have to be fit here – otherwise you don’t play. It’s up to us to make sure if we are in the team we stay in there and you do what you can day in day out to stay in there.”
The latest addition to the group has been side-lined since injuring his groin during Wales' 4-0 Euro 2020 last-16 defeat to Denmark in June.
The just-turned 26-year-old underwent surgery before landing at Gawthorpe and this week played a part in his nation's most recent World Cup qualifiers.
He was introduced against the Czech Republic on the hour, replacing Chris Gunter, as he faced team-mate Matej Vydra at the Sinobo Stadium.
Roberts then played 83 minutes as Kieffer Moore's 12-minute finish proved decisive in the Group E game away at Estonia.
"There's always going to be [competition], it's the nature of the game," Lowton continued. "You've got to keep looking to bring people in for that competition for places.
"That's what pushes people to play better week in, week out. Connor [Roberts] is a great player, I've seen a lot of him in the Championship, he's done very well, he's come here and it's only natural that he'll want to play.
"It's going to push myself and Phil [Bardsley] to work harder. It's the nature of the game and we like the competition."
One thing's for certain, the former Aston Villa man won't be surrendering his place in the team without a fight.
Asked if he wanted to see out his career at Burnley, Lowton said: "100%, yes. I've been here for six or seven years now and I would love to keep working hard and helping the team out as much as I can. To finish here would be great.
"It's one of the best places to come and work day in, day out with the boys, the manager, the coaching staff, everyone around. It's great, it's enjoyable and we're just looking to get that first three points on the board so we can kick on.
"I love it and I've loved it ever since I walked in on day one. My time at Villa was great, but it got cut a bit shorter than I wanted it to so I was on a little bit of a downer after leaving there.
"As soon as I came here it was fantastic and the lads welcomed me straight away, the manager was brilliant with me and I've enjoyed every single day.
"I've had some great times and I've learnt a lot over the years. It's been the best move that I've ever made and it picked me up after leaving Villa. I've loved every minute and I've never looked back."