Exclusive Ben Davies PNE column

Putting pressure on Reading's Joseph Mendes last weekend
Putting pressure on Reading's Joseph Mendes last weekend
Share this article

After coming back from my loan spell at Fleetwood, I certainly feel a lot more involved with the first team this year.

When he came in I felt that the new manager was going to give me an opportunity and that was a real positive for me.

Getting to start against Derby, my first in the Championship, and then Reading on Saturday just backed that up.

Having signed for the club back as an 11-year-old, 
it shows there is a route through to the first team which I think is really important.

At Preston you’re going to get chances as a youngster, the manager’s shown that and you find that all the way through youth development at the club.

There have been plenty of players through the years that have been here that have come through and made their debuts.

Not many are around now but there’s always been a good crop of young players at the club that are making their way through the ranks here.

Look at Josh Earl. He’s only 18 but came in and did really well on his debut at Reading. I thought he was fairly comfortable but I had no doubts that he would come in and do well.

I tried to help him through the game a bit as I was next to him at left centre-back and I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of him in the future.

Personally, as encouraging as it has been, I’ve only made the two starts in the Championship so far so I know I can’t get too far ahead of myself.

I’ve just got to keep my head down and carry on. There’s plenty of competition here and it’s a long season ahead. It’s a new level to what I’ve been used to playing at so I’m definitely finding my way still.

Going to Fleetwood did really help me though.

It really got me hungry to come back to Preston and prove that I was good enough to step into the team and perform.

All the loan spells I’ve had over the years, York, Newport and others, have helped me.

Dropping down the leagues only makes you want to work your way back up.

But I think I’ve learnt a lot more in the last two games than I did in the 20 games I got last year at Fleetwood.

I know I learnt stuff last year but it’s just so much more intense playing in the Championship.

It’s quicker and there are just better players ultimately. It is a really big step even though I was at the top end of League One last season and pushing for promotion.

The challenge of playing in the Championship is really helping me improve though.

One thing that helped with the step up initially was coming into the team against Derby in a back three when Ben Pearson was suspended.

I liked playing in a back three last year at Fleetwood and then playing in that system for my first game in the Championship definitely made things easier for me in what was always going to be a tough game.

It just meant I was more comfortable.

Then I got the nod against Reading after Tommy Spurr had played the first couple of games, which was nice.

But it depends on the day I think, it could have gone either way.

The gaffer said he picked me for my pace.

He looks into things in great detail, not just us but at the opposition as well. He picks what he thinks is the right team to go and win the game and that proved to be the case on Saturday.

It was a really good result for us.

It’s taken the pressure off us a little bit heading up to face Middlesbrough this Saturday.

They are going to be up there and if we can go there and get a result, that will be fantastic and it will really seal what has been a great start to the season.

People may have written us off to start with but our fans will be heading up there thinking we’ve got a really good chance of getting a good result.

Rightly so too, looking at the start we’ve made.

We’ve only conceded one goal so far and that was from a penalty against Derby, which as a defender is really pleasing.

We’ve been staying in games and hopefully go up to the North East and give the fans something to cheer about.

We have had a really good start but we won’t be getting carried away or getting too far ahead of ourselves.

We’re just going to take it one game at a time and pick up the points as and when we can.

Then we’ll assess it come the end of the season.