Newcastle United midfielder Danny Guthrie has said competition within the squad has been a factor in the club's Premier League success this season.
Guthrie and James Perch have deputised in the absence of midfield duo Chieck Tiote and Yohan Cabaye to highlight the depth in Alan Pardew's side.
"It's been part of the recipe for success," Guthrie told BBC Newcastle.
"It's healthy and it gives the manager great options when players are injured or suspended."
Sunday's 2-1 home win against Aston Villa established a two-point gap between fifth-placed Newcastle and Arsenal below them.
Tiote's knee injury earlier this season handed Guthrie an opportunity to impress in the first team, although his own run in the side was ended by a groin strain.
But Pardew has kept faith in the former Liverpool midfielder following his return to fitness and he has now scored two goals in 13 appearances this term.
"I came into the team for five or six games, then I unfortunately got injured for a couple of months but the manager spoke to me and said as soon as I was fit and ready there would be games for me," Guthrie added.
"The manager does give you chances, we've seen it all season with Ryan Taylor.
"He probably didn't think he was going to start as many games as he did. He's come in and done brilliantly and he's played every game."