Joel Ward relishes the challenge of competing with promising defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka for a spot in Crystal Palace’s starting 11.

He was handed his first Premier League start this season in place of the suspended 20-year-old during a 2-1 defeat to Watford.

Despite Martin Kelly – who deputised for the injured James Tomkins at the last minute – also capable of playing at right back, Ward remains unconcerned.

When asked about the increased competition between him and Wan-Bissaka, who was sent off against Liverpool, he said: “It’s only healthy. We need it.

“It’s positive and it’s only going to raise the bar, so I don’t see it as a negative. I see it as a positive.

“For me I just take it one game at a time. It's down to the management staff and everyone [when I am selected], but I'll prepare as well as I can, make sure I'm ready and fighting fit, and ready to go.”

Wilfried Zaha scored late to give Palace a glimmer of hope, but earlier goals from Roberto Pereyra and José Holebas proved too much for Palace.

It’s the first time the Eagles have lost at Vicarage Road since February 2009, as Watford went on to keep their perfect 100 percent start to their Premier League campaign.

Ward was also quizzed over his contract situation but downplayed talk of him leaving Selhurst Park after joining from Portsmouth in 2012.

He added: “I made it clear from the start I wanted to stay. Thankfully we came to an agreement and that's happened.

“You want to be in the team, you want to be playing. That's only natural, being a footballer.”