CAPTAIN John Lundstram insists nobody’s place in Oxford United’s side is safe – including his own.

With head coach Michael Appleton building a bigger squad over the summer months, competition for places has increased.

None more so in the centre of midfield, with at least five players vying for starting roles.

Lundstram has played in all but two games for United so far this season – only sitting out the Checkatrade Trophy tie at Swindon Town and Emirates FA Cup clash at Merstham.

Liam Sercombe and Joe Rothwell have also operated in central roles.

Meanwhile, Ryan Ledson and Josh Ruffels both impressed when handed starts against Merstham six days ago.

Lundstram believes such competition means nobody can afford to relax.

He said: “It is only a good thing.

“We have got loads of good players who can play in the centre of midfield now, so it definitely drives you on.

“You don’t want to be the one who is not playing, so you need to perform every day in training and in the games.”

Lundstram was named captain in July after former skipper Jake Wright departed.

Despite only being 22 years of age, he already had experience of captaining at club and international level for Everton Under 18s and Under 21s, as well as England Under 19s.

With that comes the realisation that although he wears the armband he is not guaranteed a starting place.

Lundstram said: “It doesn’t mean your place is cemented.

“With the talent we have got anyone can play on any given day.

“I just want to keep improving and get a consistent bit of form and help the team win.”