Davies targeting regular PNE spot

Ben Davies
Ben Davies
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Teenager Ben Davies is keenly awaiting the challenge of trying to force his way into the Preston North End squad on a regular basis next season.

The 17-year-old has had quite a week, with him voted PNE’s Scholar of the Year and then handed a professional contract.

He was one of the three trainees offered a deal to join the pro ranks, midfielder Ryan Croasdale and goalkeeper Steven James the others.

Davies won the Scholar of the Year award on the back of breaking into the first-team squad earlier in the year.

The Barrow lad made three starts against Coventry, Shrewsbury and Yeovil in late January and early February.

Davies told the Evening Post: “It was a great feeling to win the Scholar of the Year award.

“There have been some very good players who have won the award in the past, so it was an honour for me to get it this year.

“Now I’m looking to push on after the summer.

“I got my chance after Christmas under the last manager and have trained with the squad since the new gaffer came in.

“My aim is to come back for pre-season, work hard and be competitive within the squad.”

Davies has played much of his time in the youth team as a centre-back.

But it was in the left-back position that he played the three first-team games.

Eventually he’d like to play in the middle again but knows he has to develop physically in order to operate there.

“For the youth team I tended to play at centre-back,” said Davies.

“The step-up to the first-team is huge and I don’t think I’m physically ready to play centre-back yet for the first team.

“If it gets me games in the first team, I will play anywhere.

“I think I need to bulk up in order to play in the centre of defence.”

Davies has been with North End for six years after being scouted playing for his local side.

He said: “I was 11 when I joined Preston, so I’ve been here a while now.

“I’m from Barrow but my team Furness Rovers played in a tournament in Lancaster.

“Preston scouts were there, I’m not sure they were there to watch me, but after the tournament they asked me to come along for trials.

“I played one game for Preston and they signed me after that.”

Davies, Croasdale and James have been offered one-year professional deals with an option for a second.

They’ll be encouraged as to how youth-team graduates Bailey Wright and Will Hayhurst have done recently.

Wright signed a new two-year contract on Wednesday after establishing himself in the first-team in the season just finished.

It was this time last year that Hayhurst signed his first pro contract, and the winger made 25 appearances in the 2012/13 campaign.

North End triggered a 12-month contract clause on 19-year-old Hayhurst last month.

And they are in talks with his agent at the moment about a longer deal.