Wojciech Szczesny believes that friendship is crucial to the quality of a goalkeeping department.

The Polish keeper and compatriot Lukasz Fabianski have been joined by Emiliano Viviano in competing for that coveted place between the posts, and Szczesny believes that the mutual support on offer within the shot-stoppers' fraternity ensures that each player is on top of his game.

"Lukasz and I have been very good friends for nine or 10 years now, so the atmosphere is really friendly and Emiliano has added to that," Szczesny told the official matchday programme.

"He's settled in well, and he's very supportive as well as being competitive. Whoever gets to play has the backing of the others - we hope each other does well and that can only bring out the best in us."

The 23 year-old had a period out of the team towards the end of last season, but says that it helped him to get back to his very best.

Matchday programme

Read more from Wojciech in the Stoke City programme

"I'd say I raised my standards when Lukasz got his chance in goal," he said.

"When you start to realise that your position is not safe at all, you give it that little bit more - 110 per cent rather than 100 per cent maybe.

"I changed my training schedule a little bit, came in earlier, things like that. It paid off, I got back into the team and have been doing much better ever since.

"I've just been trying to keep that training schedule going, and obviously with Lukasz and Emiliano fighting for that place too the competition is very tough now."

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Nick Ames 22 Sep 2013