ZAK Whitbread aims to push Richard Keogh and Jake Buxton for a place at the heart of Derby County’s defence this season.
Keogh and Buxton formed a solid centre-back partnership last season, resulting in Whitbread spending most of his loan spell from Leicester City on the substitutes’ bench.
But the 29-year-old enjoyed his time at the club and had no hesitation joining Derby permanently on a one-year deal with the option of a further 12 months.
Now he says he is ready to challenge for a starting role.
“It is about coming in and looking to get a shirt,” said Whitbread.
“I had some good options but I had a great time here last season and I am delighted to be a Derby player.
“Even though I did not play many games, it is a great club and a club that is going in the right direction.
“It was a special ride last season. Unfortunately we didn’t quite do it [win promotion] but it was great to be a part of the set up with the coaching staff and the fans, and especially the lads, who were top drawer.
“We will look to push on again this season and I am confident in my own ability I can come and challenge for one of the two centre-half spots, as well as Richard and Bucko have done.
“They were tremendous last season but I would not be here if I didn’t think I could challenge for a place – that’s what it’s all about.
“If you don’t have that competition, people can get comfortable. I am looking forward to pushing the two lads.”