Mark Hughes has assembled a strong Potters playing group this season, evidenced by the fact that winger Etherington is keeping the likes of Jermaine Pennant, Oussama Assaidi and Marko Arnautovic out of the line-up.
Etherington has started all four Premier League matches so far this campaign but he knows he has to remain one step ahead if he wants to continue in his present role.
"I'm not going to be here for the rest of my life, so the competition is good because it does keep you on your toes," he told the Sentinel.
"To start the first four games shows the manager trusts me, but I know that to stay in the team my performances have to be high to make sure the manager picks me.
"We've got two or three players in every position now and they are top-quality players. This must be the best squad we've had since I've been here and there's some good players who can play in my position."