Craig Gordon is targeting a return to being Sunderland's number one after successfully coming through his first game of the season.
The keeper returned to action in Monday night's 4-1 Carling Cup second round victory at Norwich after an injury plagued second season on Wearside.
This saw him manage just five further appearances after damaging an ankle in training last October, and he was then laid low by a knee problem which eventually required surgery in May.
But now that he has earned his first start this season, he wants to challenge team-mate Marton Fulop for the number one spot in new manager Steve Bruce's eyes.
The Scotland international, who was signed for £9million by former boss Roy Keane back in August 2007, said: "I've been on the bench for the first three league games of the season, but I think I was really a bit ahead of schedule at that stage.
"But who knows what will happen now? I'm sure the manager realises that Marton and I both want to be the club's number one, and that competition can only be good for the club.
"We play Stoke this weekend and we will have to wait and see what team the manager picks.
"I'm sure he will assess the squad for the rest of the week."
He added: "I was pleased with the way my comeback went.
"I wasn't sure what to expect from my knee in my first game back, and I suppose I was a little bit tentative with my kicking to start with.
"But as the game went on, I got more confident as I realised the knee is back to normal.
"It was good to be back playing again. It was about four months since my last game, so it was great to be back out there and playing a part in the win at Norwich.
"I made a couple of saves in the first half and it is always good to do that early on, just to get your confidence going again."
Saturday's game could see the Black Cats face former skipper Dean
Whitehead, who completed a £3million switch to the Britannia Stadium in July after five years on Wearside.
Gordon told the Sunderland Echo: "He's a good player and I'm sure he will fit perfectly into the way Stoke like to do things.
"He's a combative midfield player and I'm sure he will fit in
"I wish him every success in the future - just not this weekend."