Ben Davies is ready for the challenge of being one of Preston north End’s key men this season.
Named North End’s young player of the year after a breakthrough campaign last term, the 22-year-old is expected to kick on again this time around.
That isn’t something that fazes the Barrow-born defender though as he bids to help PNE mix at the sharp end of the Championship.
“I feel like I’ve got age on my side,” said Davies, who started Saturday’s opening-day win over Queens Park Rangers alongside Tom Clarke.
“I’m growing up, I’ve got more experience and I’m in a better place than I was at the start of last year.
“I’ve got all those things going for me as well.
“A little bit more expectation is fine by me.
“It’s good to be getting games under my belt and learning from the likes of Paul Huntington and Tom Clarke so that I can improve as quickly as I can and try and get better with each game.”
After Alan Browne’s header handed Alex Neil’s side a 1-0 victory on home soil to kick off the new Championship season, the Lilywhites travel to Swansea on Saturday.
Relegated from the Premier League last season, the Swans started life under Graham Potter with a 2-1 win at Sheffield United.
Stoke follow seven days later in what looks like a tricky start on paper for Neil’s North End.
“There were a few tough tests to start with when the fixtures came out,” said Davies.
“I think it was important to get off to a good start in front of our home fans which we have done.
“We don’t fear sides but we know that they’ve got quality players having come down from the Premier League.
“We’ll have to be aware of that but it’s not just Swansea and Stoke, we know every game is going to be a challenge.
“We’ll have to go down to Swansea and put in a top performance to get the result we want.
“There’s no easy games and it’s going to be a long season so we need to go into every game and pick up as many points as we can from each one.”
Looking at the bigger picture, Davies knows North End have to take things up another level if they are to make the jump from seventh to the coveted play-offs and a shot at the Premier League come May.
“We came close last year it just wasn’t enough,” he said.
“We know and the gaffer has said that we have to work that bit harder, run that bit faster and be that bit more decisive.
“We know it’s going to be a tough season but every club wants to build on the season before and if we can do that we’re obviously where we want to be.”