Ben Davies believes he is ready to cement a regular place in Preston North End’s first XI this season.
The 18-year-old defender appears to be vying with the more seasoned Scott Laird and David Buchanan for the left-back position for this weekend’s first league game of the campaign.
Davies has had plenty of game-time during pre-season and looks to be in pole position to get the nod from manager Simon Grayson for the visit of Notts County to Deepdale on Saturday.
He has impressed in matches against Premier League sides Liverpool, Burnley and Leicester.
And the time he spent on loan last term with York City in League Two appears to have done him the world of good.
He played 47 times for the Minstermen, in all competitions, and has clearly benefited from his stint at Bootham Crescent.
Davies – who has risen up through the youth ranks at the club – made his debut for North End the season before last as a raw 17-year-old.
He was very much a surprise selection by former boss Graham Westley when he was brought into the side at the end of January last year for a league clash against Coventry City at Deepdale.
He helped the team – who were struggling at the time – to a 2-2 draw and kept his place in the team the week after but unfortunately gave a penalty away in the final minute, as North End lost 2-1 at home to Shrewsbury Town.
Davies figured once more a few days later as North End went down 3-1 to Yeovil Town at Huish Park, which proved to be the final act of Westley’s tenure as manager.
Davies has yet to make a competitive appearance under Grayson, but seems to have caught the eye of the PNE boss over the summer.
Davies said: “I had a strong season last year and I think I needed to get away and get some games so I think hopefully I’m going to stick around and I will benefit from what I did last year.
“It looks like I’m in Simon Grayson’s plans so far and I’m pleased with how it is going.
“It would mean a lot to get a spot in the starting line-up on Saturday – everyone in the team wants to get out there and play.
“My job is just about playing football and I love doing my job.
“Once you are out there and playing there is no better feeling in the world so I want to nail that really.
“I just want to try to help the team get promotion this season, it is a team game so we need to push together and if I can help to do that then that is great.”
Davies came on as a 62nd-minute substitute in the 1-1 draw against Leicester on Saturday, and played virtually the entire game as PNE defeated Burnley in midweek.
He said: “I think Saturday was a good performance against a great team in Leicester.
“They pass the ball well, so it is always great to get a positive result against a team like that.
“It is a great experience to play against Premier League sides like Leicester and Burnley.
“The Deepdale pitch looks immaculate and I like to pass the ball, so it is great to get out there and play against some quality players and express yourself.”