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York City's Ben Davies aims to improve corners
BEN Davies has volunteered to stay behind after training in an attempt to improve York City’s goal threat at corners.
Since Richard Cresswell scored against Plymouth on April 1, the Minstermen have forced 50 flag-kicks without any reward in front of goal in the ensuing eight games.
From the six corners won against Hartlepool on Saturday Nigel Worthington’s men could not even muster a single attempt on goal despite having seven six-foot-plus outfield players in Tom Allan (6ft 4in), Chris Smith (6ft 2in), Dan Parslow (6ft 1in), Tom Platt (6ft 1in), Ryan Jarvis (6ft 1in), Cresswell (6ft 1in) and Craig Clay (6ft) in their starting line-up.
On-loan left-back Davies has now been tasked with swinging in deliveries from the right – a responsibility he is taking seriously.
The 18-year-old defender said: “I will take it on myself to hit the training ground this week and practise hard on my corners. I’ve not had the chance to do that yet but, if I am going to be taking them, I will work on them and hopefully add a bit more quality.
“A set-piece can be the difference between winning and losing so, as a team, you need to work on them and, hopefully, we will then see some goals from set-pieces.”
With fellow 18-year-old Tom Allan lining up alongside Davies, City’s left side of defence had a youthful look during the home draw with Hartlepool.
Due to David McGurk’s hamstring injury, Allan is expected to retain his place at Bristol Rovers. Davies believes the teenage duo can carry on working effectively together in the Minstermen’s back four, saying: “I thought Tom did really well against Hartlepool and deserved to be (the sponsors’) man of the match.
“He looked solid, strong and won his headers. I thought we dealt with most things over that side and, if it’s Tom playing again this Saturday, I am hopeful we can keep another clean sheet.”
Given his tender years, Davies is also unperturbed by the possibility of opposition teams targeting him as an inexperienced full-back with just six League outings to his name for City and parent club Preston.
He added: “I don’t care if people look at me playing there as a weak spot. They can play down that side if they want – it does not bother me.
“The more I play the more confident I will get and my performances will get better and better. It’s a very physical division but that’s all part of the challenge and I am enjoying it.”Davies was given his debut at Deepdale in January but the last of his three appearances – all starts – for the Lilywhites came in Graham Westley’s final game in charge – a 3-1 defeat at Yeovil.
He is yet to figure under Westley’s successor Simon Grayson with ex-Bury and Tranmere defender David Buchanan currently playing in Davies’ position for the League One outfit and former Stevenage full-back Scott Laird offering cover on the bench.
Preston also opened the new campaign with three consecutive clean sheets, leaving Davies wasting no time in agreeing to extend his one-month loan deal at Bootham Crescent to January.
On his Preston prospects and City chance, Davies said: “Graham Westley gave me an opportunity to play a few games for Preston but then, unfortunately, he got sacked.
“After that, I was on the edges under Simon Grayson and on the bench a few times but I have come here to get some experience so I can hopefully go back and fight for a place. Preston are happy for me to get some experience.
“Their back four are doing really well there at the moment so, unless there are any injuries, I won’t be playing. I accept that and needed to get away to get some games under my belt.
“I’m over the moon really to be here until January.”
Davies is also looking forward to furthering his football education under former international left-back Worthington, admitting: “I have learned a lot from him already so, when he wanted to keep me, I felt like I must be doing something right. I’ve just got to keep listening to him.”
Born and bred in Lancashire, Davies is also now settled across the Pennines.
“Myself, Craig Clay, Wes Fletcher and Chris Kettings are all in a house together,” he revealed.
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