Paul Gallagher admits he cannot afford to rest on his laurels as he looks to maintain his ever presence in the Preston North End midfield.
The 32-year-old ace has been a mainstay of the PNE team since his arrival at Deepdale on loan from Leicester City in 2013.
The holder of a club record for the most appearances as a borrowed player, Gallagher finally made his move a permanent one last year.
Having helped North End secure promotion from League One via the play-off final victory over Swindon Town, Gallagher continued to figure regularly during last summer’s successful Championship campaign.
He remains an integral member of Simon Grayson’s squad and has started every league game so far this season.
However, Gallagher knows that nobody is sure of their position in the team, especially as the team is currently in the relegation zone after picking up just three points out of 15.
With Gallagher, Daniel Johnson, Ben Pringle and latterly John Welsh the preferred options in midfield, by and large, over the first five games, Grayson may consider shaking things up.
Ben Pearson – yet to start in the league this season – Alan Browne and Liam Grimshaw are all waiting patiently for a significant run in the side.
“It’s a squad game,” said Gallagher.
“You look around at the quality of players that we have here, if they came into the side they would do just as good a job as the boys who have been in the team.
“Everybody has to be on their ‘A’ game in every game.
“You know that there is somebody behind you waiting to take your position in the team.
“Obviously the loan window is not open any more, so you probably have to have a squad where there’s two players for every position.
“You are always battling away to make sure you stay in the team and the manager has shown in the past that he is not afraid of changing the team and freshening things up.
“Particularly in my position, we have got six, seven midfielders who can all slot into the team comfortably.
“All I can do is concentrate on myself, prepare well and give myself the best possible chance of staying in the team.
“The manager knows what my qualities are, but there are obviously other players who have similar and different qualities.
“You look at John Welsh, who has been out of the frame for a while, but he’s very professional and experience.
“He’s kept himself right so that when he was called back into the team at QPR, he was ready.”
Meanwhile, Gallagher is looking forward to the opportunity of pitting his wits against Premier League opposition in the third round of the EFL Cup.
North End were drawn against Bournemouth at Dean Court after defeating Oldham Athletic in the previous round at home. The tie is set to take place on Tuesday, September 20 Ironically, the two teams met each other at the same stage last season, with the Cherries emerging victorious on penalties after a 2-2 draw at Deepdale.
“Bournemouth’s not too far to travel is it?” said Gallagher.
“It’s nice to be in the next round of the cup – we obviously played them last year and gave them a good game.
“They have obviously done very well . The manager down there Eddie Howe – he’s very highly regarded.
“He’s managed to take that club from the bottom of the second division to the Premier League.
“They play the game in the right way – Eddie’s got them playing some good football.
“But we will go down there looking to win another game of football.
“Every game we go into, we believe we can win and you want to test yourselves against the best teams in the country.