REDA Johnson has told how fresh competition for the left-back spot made him doubly determined to regain his Sheffield Wednesday place.
The defender sat out the final five games of last season because of a thigh injury suffered in the 2-0 victory at Hudderfield.
Mark Beevers did a sound job in the position for the last four matches, and in the summer Dave Jones signed West Brom left back Joe Mattock.
But Johnson regained his fitness, forced his way back in friendly games, and looks favourite to start at Derby today.
He admits: “When things like new players coming in happen, the first thought is that there should be a lot of competition.
“But to be honest it is better for players. It just helps you to become stronger. Every time you play, you want to play even better.”
He acknowledges that Wednesday will now be testing themselves against a better class of opposition.
But he has high hopes that they will be able to carry on the momentum created by promotion.
“It will be a very good test for us in the first game of the season,” he says.
“Sheffield Wednesday have had to wait two years to get back in the Championship.
“It will be a very good atmosphere at Derby.
“We have to be very confident, but we also have to be careful; it is a case of feet on the floor; we are in the Championship now. We will try to play our best.
“We have seen Norwich and Southampton do it [earn back-to-back promotions]. Why not Sheffield Wednesday?
“The job starts on Saturday. I think we are ready for it.
“We play some big teams this season but I hope we will be one of the three who go up.”