Highly-rated Watford goalkeeper Jonathan Bond hopes he is now ready to challenge Scott Loach for the number one spot.

Bond, 18, made his first start for Watford on Saturday and looked relatively assured despite conceding two goals against Bradford City.

The Academy graduate has spent time on loan at Evostick South Premier leaders Brackley Town and Conference side Forest Green Rovers this season and with Rene Gilmartin out on loan, is now Loach’s understudy.

Bond said: “I would say I still have developing to do but I hope I can challenge.

“We all get on really well, the three of us, and we all believe in our own abilities. Challenging for the number one spot is something you always have to look to do.”

Bond, who was born in Hemel Hempstead and went to school in Berkhamsted, joined the Hornets as a ten-year-old and has been around the first team squad for some time, earning a professional contract in the summer of 2010, shortly after his 17th birthday.

He qualifies for England, Wales, Spain and the United States through his parents and was in the bizarre situation of being called up by the full Wales squad in October 2010 despite having never played a first team match.

Bond, who was 17 and a second-year scholar at the time, admits he felt under pressure just warming up in front of the crowd for the two Euro 2012 qualifying games but believes the experience has benefitted him.

He insists there were no issues with nerves during his first Watford start at the weekend though and said his preperations going into the contest did not change despite knowing he was starting, due to Loach’s suspension.

Bond said: “My training and preparation during the week was no different because when Scott is playing, I’m still on the bench and have to be as equally prepared.

“Mentally it might be different because you know you are going to be playing and I had never started a match for Watford before so I was a little bit nervous.

“I was worried nerves might be an issue before the game but once you get there and start warming up, it is just like any other game. Obviously it is a higher level but you forget about the occasion and just play the game.”

Dyche described Bond’s performance on Saturday as excellent and believes he could “do nothing” about either of Bradford’s goals.

When asked whether Bond was ready to challenge Loach’s number one spot, Dyche replied: “Well he is developing, let’s make it clear - particularly by goalkeeping standards.

“I think it is fair to say goalkeepers’ development is sometimes later than outfield players but he’s here for a reason, as is everyone, and there is no one here that we de-value or overlook.

“His intention is to play for this football club and he’ll want to play as early as he can and that is exactly the demand that I want from the squad.”