Richard Stearman has pledged to do everything in his power to help Sheffield United reach the Premier League, whether or not he cements a place in Chris Wilder's starting eleven.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow's visit to Nottingham Forest, which could see United consolidate their position at the top of the Championship, the former England under-21 international described the increased competition among Bramall Lane's centre-halves as a necessary sacrifice if promotion is to be achieved.
Stearman could make only his third start of the season at the City Ground if John Egan, a £4m summer signing, fails to recover from injury.
But, regardless of Wilder's selections, the 31-year-old said: "I like supporting my team, whether I'm starting or not, and I'll be doing the utmost to help whoever is in my position. I think that's important because we all want the same. We're a really tight group and we all know what's up for grabs."
Despite emerging as a key member of Wilder's side last season, Stearman had played only 152 minutes of football this term before being recalled when Egan was ruled-out of United's win over Wigan Athletic seven days ago.
"It's a mindset in our dressing room," he continued. "We're looking at doing bigger and better things than last season and, if we want to do that, then we're going to need more than the 11 on the pitch.
"If the team is winning, then the majority of the boys understand you've got to wait for your chance. It probably helps with me being a little bit older, having been around the block a bit, because I understand I'll be called upon and needed at some stage of the season."
With Chris Basham serving a one match suspension, Wilder has admitted Egan will be given "every opportunity" to prove his fitness for the meeting with Aitor Karanka's side. If he succeeds, then Stearman could find himself partnering the player whose performances have been responsible for limiting his opportunities.
"Looking at it realistically, with the team being top of the league and winning games, it's hard for a manager to chop and change," Stearman said. "Of course I want to be out there on the pitch but I know the team has been playing well, people in my position are playing well, and John has been brought in for good money so he had to be given the opportunity to play. I'll be waiting and hopefully I've taken my chance."