“You can’t get complacent!” Everyone at Boston United knows they’re playing for their shirt - Ben Middleton

Ben Middleton.
Ben Middleton.

Ben Middleton says he has to be on top of his game to keep his place in the Boston United team - and he knows he’s not alone.

Healthy competition is keeping Craig Elliott’s squad on their toes this season.

Defender Middleton has had to battle for a place in the Pilgrims’ line-up with summer signing Karl Byrne.

And despite Byrne this week signing dual registration forms with Grantham Town, Middleton knows nothing is certain.

“You can get complacent,” said Middleton.

“I know when I come in I have to be on my best performace or it gives a chance for the gaffer to change it.

“That still can happen, you never know.

“We’re all challenging for places, which is a good thing. We all have to be on top of our game.

“That makes for a better squad. Every time you play you play for your shirt, as the gaffer says in training.”

Manager Elliott made a concerted effort this summer to bring in two players for every position, believing that would spur his squad on as well as avoid reshuffles due to injury or suspension.

Middleton started the first four competitive matches for United, but lost his place to the more attack-minded Byrne following the 1-1 draw at Alfreton where he conceded a penalty.

Following three games out the side Middleton returned for the 3-0 defeat at Gloucester, where another spot kick was given against him, both of which looked soft.

“I didn’t want to say it but both decisions, I thought, were harsh,” Middleton said.

“The lads have backed me up but it’s two penalty decisions against your name in two games.

“There’s not much you can do about decisions, that’s just how it goes sometimes.”

A further five games on the sidelines followed before Middleton regained his place in the FA Cup win at Stamford, having played the past three United games.