Clark: Healthy competition drives me on

Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark insists that his friendly rivalry with Nathan Baker is helping both of them produce their best.

The pair have been rotating in and out of the Premier League club's defence in this campaign, with both having started six times in the opening 11 fixtures.

Villa manager Paul Lambert has seen his men keep four clean sheets already this season, compared to five last term.

Clark feels that he and Baker are both progressing well as they battle it out for a regular starting berth.

"It's been up and down for me personally," he told the club's official website.

"I was on the bench to start with and then I was playing. It’s been a bit of a mixed bag for me, and Nathan and me were both coming on and coming off at first.

"When you get on you have to try to take your chance and I think both of us have done that this season. We've both played well and both want to be involved and play.

"We are good mates and if one of us is playing the other one will fully back the other lad. I think that's the kind of belief we've got here at Villa.

"Whoever's not playing wants the 11 players out there to do well and I think that will take us far.

''It's always nice as a defender to keep clean sheets. We've managed to get a few and hopefully we can keep a few more."