Davies is central to PNE’s defensive plans

Ben Davies in action for PNE against Newcastle
Ben Davies in action for PNE against Newcastle
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Ben Davies sees himself as a centre-half in the long-term after an encouraging return to the first-team picture at Preston.

The 21-year-old featured as a left-back in his early days in the PNE side.

But in subsequent loan spells away from Deepdale, he has developed into a central role – one he initially played in the youth team.

His latest loan was in the second half of last season at Fleetwood, the opponents for North End in their last pre-season friendly 
on Friday night.

Davies played 26 games for Town, helping them reach the League One play-offs in May.

All those appearances were in the centre of defence, although Fleetwood did play with a back three rather than the flat four favoured by PNE boss Alex Neil.

Barrow-born Davies has featured in five of Preston’s six friendlies to date.

He sat out Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat to Burnley because of a slight groin strain.

Having got 90 minutes in the Newcastle game, he would only have been a substitute against the Clarets anyway.

Davies told the Post: “I do see myself a centre-back now.

“When I broke into the team, left-back suited me at the time and suited the team.

“I think I’ve matured as a player and being able to read the game from a deeper role in the middle suits me better.”

Davies impressed during his loan stay at Fleetwood to the extent they wanted him back this season.

However, he is firmly in Neil’s Deepdale plans.

Fleetwood head coach Uwe Rosler said: “I spoke to Alex Neil. He said Ben made a big step and he (Alex) is very happy in what he has seen in pre-season so far.

“He is planning with Ben for the Championship and that is why now we try to look around at what is on the market.”

Another player in the PNE squad with links to Fleetwood is goalkeeper Chris Maxwell.

He made 124 appearances for Town in a four-year stay.

Maxwell moved to North End a year ago on a Bosman at the end of his contract.

During pre-season he has played in every friendly due to an injury to Declan Rudd.

For the last 15 minutes of the Burnley game, Maxwell was replaced by Mat Hudson.

He went straight down the tunnel with the physio.

Admission at Highbury Stadium is £10 for adults, £5 for Over-65s and £1 Under-16s for terracing, and £12 for adults, £6 Over-65s and £2 Under-11s for the seats.