PNE youngster set for the top

Deepdale debut: Ben Davies
Deepdale debut: Ben Davies
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Ben Davies has a bright future after his promotion to the Preston North End first-team squad, according to manager Graham Westley.

The 17-year-old made his debut at left-back in North End’s 2-2 draw against Coventry City at Deepdale.

After taking time to find his feet, Davies put in a steady second-half performance and it was his cross which helped set-up Nicky Wroe’s equaliser.

Graham Cummins had put PNE ahead in the 29th minute, Leon Clarke levelling the scores going into half-time.

A Chris Robertson own goal handed Coventry the lead early in the second half.

While the draw brought a welcome point, it set an unwanted club record of 10 consecutive home league games without victory.

Westley revealed that the defeat to Walsall earlier this month had prompted him to look to the youth team, Ryan Croasdale also promoted to first-team training along with Davies.

He said: “I went away after the Walsall game feeling we had been beaten by a bunch of kids and I can’t remember that happening too often in my managerial career.

“When that happens you open your mind a little bit and I thought it was a good opportunity to see what our kids could do.

“I’ve brought a couple into the training shake-up –sometimes you have to be brave and go with your instincts.

“The minute I saw Ben in our environment, he made the same sort of impression on me which George Boyd did at Stevenage.

“I expect George Boyd in this window or the next to move to the Premier League, and I’m not embarrassed to say that Ben has the same sort of potential.

“He got himself up and running as the game went on and was calm and composed. That was a terrific debut.”

The weekend’s clash was played on a poor-quality pitch, recent training sessions during the cold snap taking their toll.

Westley felt that North End showed character to ride out plenty of early Coventry pressure before Cummins gave them the lead.

Then after they had gone 2-1 behind, he was pleased with the manner in which they quickly levelled.

“There would have been a lot of questions being asked when we went behind,” said Westley.

“What is the character of the team? Are they playing for their manager? Are they playing for their club? Have they given up the ghost for this season or are they prepared to go and get the winning run needed to create something?

“I think the lads gave you the answer with the way they reacted to Coventry scoring their second goal.

“Our form here has not been good – we’ve had some problem results.

“But they certainly gave their heart and soul to that performance, and they could quite easily have gone on to get a winner.

“It’s been tough for the lads to be part of a place where there is a negative feel about results and performances.

“They answered back well on Saturday.

“We don’t want to be sitting here enjoying a draw with Coventry, that is not what the club is all about.”

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