Mansfield Town defender Mal Benning believes the quality in League Two has increased this season.
Benning feels the standard of teams relegated last season and a general strengthening of squads by the play-off chasers has helped make the league much tougher.
But he is confident Stags have bought well and have got the qualities needed to match the division’s best.
“The league is much harder than last season, there are a few better teams and teams that have strengthened and upped the quality,” he said.
“We had a good squad last year, but the players brought in now has upped our squad quality a bit more.”
And Benning knows that all players with a first team shirt now have to be at the top of their game to fight off those waiting in the wings.
He said: “I have been doing all right each game, I just want to keep my place in the team. There is a lot of competition for places and you have to play well to keep your place.
“The competitoon we have now ups the intesnity and focus, you know you cannot lapse or you will be losing your place and maybe sitting in the stands.
“There is always the pressure, but it brings the best out of you to keep your shirt.
“In training there is a bit more passing going on and we are trying to play a bit more. the boss wants us to play football and dominate games.
“Bringing Steve Evans in has been a good change, we have to adapt to his philosphy and it’s a great experience. We have high hopes of making the play-offs.”
And Benning is eager for improving Mansfield to cut the gap on the play-off pack further by bagging three points at home to Leyton Orient on Saturday.
“The form guide does not matter, anyone can beat anyone in this league as results have already shown,” he added.
“It is one of those games where we just have to focus on what we are doing. We are three points off the play-offs and we need to keep our focus and keep climbing the table. Orient are a good team and we know we have to keep our focus.”