Sam Hird says players have got to stay on their toes in training or risk losing their place in manager Jack Lester’s plans.
On Saturday at Mansfield experienced operators like Scott Wiseman – who has started 22 of Town’s 25 fixtures this season – and Chris O’Grady had to settle for a place on the bench.
It was the first time this season that Wiseman was named among the substitutes, his only other absence from the starting XI coming last week when he was suspended.
The return from injury of Jerome Binnom-Williams and the upturn in individual and collective form have led to increased competition for a start.
Hird said: “Wisey has been pretty consistent all season, he’s been unlucky to be left out and he’ll feel hard done to, just as other players will who have been left on the bench.
“But it’s a good squad, the gaffer has got options.
“We’re now at a stage where everyone is being kept on their toes and if you don’t train properly - Wisey has trained brilliantly he’s just been left out because he was suspended for the last game - but players who don’t train properly won’t have a chance to get back in the team.”
One player who has made it very hard for Lester to leave him out has been Andy Kellett.
Hird has been impressed: “He’s been brilliant for us last four or five games, he’s really upped his tempo in how he plays.
“He’s got that low centre of gravity, that change of pace that you can’t really stop.
“And he’s scored a great goal (against Mansfield).”