Seb Ryall knows well the pressure of fighting for a starting spot at Sydney FC, and claims competition for places is the strongest he's seen in his six years at the club.
There are essentially two players for every position on the Sky Blues' books this A-League season as coach Graham Arnold prepares to battle on two fronts when their Asian Champions League (ACL) campaign kicks off early next year.
Ryall started Sydney's first five games at right-back, before being dropped for Rhyan Grant in the Melbourne Victory loss two weeks ago.
But the 26-year-old was reinstated in central defence for Saturday's goalless draw with Perth.
The former Melbourne Victory man is hoping Arnold will keep faith in him for Thursday's home clash with Wellington.
But with regular centre-back Jacques Faty back from personal leave, Matt Jurman seemingly cemented as his partner and youngster Alex Gersbach also in excellent form, defensive openings are slim.
However, Ryall thought he'd done enough to warrant his inclusion by helping keeping a clean sheet against Perth in sweltering conditions last Saturday.
"If it were up to me I'd be saying yes," he said.
"But it's up to 'Arnie'.
"I'm not sure what the team line-up is just yet but there's going to be pressure on every player.
"It's a very strong squad and training has never been so good. This is my sixth year at the club now, and the standard at training is really great.
"It's keeping everyone on their toes. It's just a matter of performing each week, and you don't want to lose your spot."
Sydney FC have picked up only two points in their last three fixtures, but Ryall said morale and confidence remains high.
"It's not a concern. We're looking at processes rather than results, and I think we're improving," he said.
"Last week was a difficult one obviously with the conditions.
"But we're showing progression and with the strength of our squad it's just a matter of time until we start clicking and the chemistry is there between the players."