(Reuters) - Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech does not fear having to fight for his place should Belgian international Thibaut Courtois return to Stamford Bridge next season.
The 21-year-old Courtois has been on loan at surprise La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid for the past three seasons and is set to occupy the starting role for his country during their World Cup campaign in Brazil later this year.
While no decision has been announced on where Courtois will play next season, the Belgian has made it clear he will not return to London to sit on the bench behind Cech, who barring injury has been Chelsea's first choice keeper for a decade.
Courtois has been in stunning form in Atletico's climb to the top of the table and has also been instrumental in the side's impressive Champions League run, in which they drew the first leg of their quarter-final tie against Barcelona 1-1 on Tuesday.
Cech, meanwhile, was beaten at the near post by Javier Pastore in Chelsea's 3-1 defeat in their Champions League quarter-final against Paris St Germain on Wednesday, but the Czech remains unmoved by the potential return of Courtois.
"If, on the first day of pre-season, Thibaut Courtois is here, he is here... if he is not, he is not," the 31-year-old told the Daily Mail on Friday ahead of his side's Premier League clash against Stoke City at the weekend.
"It does not change anything. I will still have to do better than whoever else is here, to keep my place. It doesn't change anything for me," added Cech, who registered his 150th league clean sheet for the Blues earlier this season.
"You could ask John Terry or Gary Cahill about the very promising French central defender bought by the club.
"If he comes back and he's better than me, credit to him, well done to him, but who knows? I'm not afraid. I'm not a fool to think I've been here 10 years and I'll be here another five, just because.
"I am not playing because my name is Petr Cech. I'm playing because I've been playing well and because the manager thinks it improves the team with me in goal. I've never had a manager who would just put me in the goal because everybody was used to seeing me there."
Both players are contracted until 2016.
(Writing by Josh Reich; Editing by John O'Brien)