Stiliyan Petrov has admitted Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill's summer spending spree has ensured every member of the squad is aware of the need to perform at top level - or face the axe.
O'Neill spent �48million before the transfer window closed a fortnight ago to try to ensure Villa can improve on last season's sixth position in the Barclays Premier League.
The Bulgaria international told PA Sport: "I think we have more balance in the team now but, with the competition, you need to be on the top of your game. If you are not on top of your game, then you are out, simple as that."
He added: "I think the extra competition has given me and everyone else a shove to improve.
"You know now that every bad game could cost you your place so everyone is working hard and you are trying to be prepared as well as you can be for each game.
"There are a lot of games coming up and you need a big squad to cope, definitely.
"With the UEFA Cup and the Premier League, the hardest league in the world, you need a big squad to compete - and I think we've got the squad to do it. I hope we won't be far away from the top four this season.
"The new players have bedded in well, and they have all been working very hard, because if you don't work very hard, you won't get a place in the team."
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