ON-LOAN teenager Ben Davies agrees with York City manager Nigel Worthington that he has grown into a man since his summer arrival at Bootham Crescent.

Worthington made his comments following another resolute display from the 18-yearold Preston defender during last weekend’s 2-0 home win over Wycombe.

The Barrow-born Lilywhite kicked off this season with just three senior outings under his belt and has admitted he is now mentally and physically stronger, having started all but one of the Minstermen’s Sky Bet League Two fixtures this term.

Ahead of this afternoon’s meeting with Portsmouth at Fratton Park, Davies said: “Experience is crucial for any footballer and playing games always helps you. I feel a lot stronger now and my confidence is quite high at the minute.

“I feel like I can go out and perform on the pitch, which is better than when I first came here at the start of the season.

“The fitness and conditioning coaches have also been working on my strength quite a lot, usually twice a week.

“We are not overdoing it, but it’s important in football to use your strength. As a young lad, I am still growing as well.

“I think I have grown a few inches in the last few months and I am filling out too.”

Davies is also grateful to Worthington for furthering his footballing education during a season-long stay with the Minstermen, adding: “I owe a lot to the manager.

“He gave me my chance at the start of the season and has kept me in. I have benefitted from that and will really benefit in the future.”

Worthington, meanwhile, is always quick to stress the importance of competition for places but, since Jamal Fyfield’s departure for Grimsby in January, City have operated with only one professional left-back on their books.

But the Minstermen’s number three insists his performance levels remain unchanged by the lack of a challenger for his position, reasoning: “I try to do my best and keep my standards high all the time, whether there is competition for my place or not.

“I don’t think it affects me too much either way and all the other players keep me going as well, so there’s no danger of me becoming complacent.”

Having made more appearances than any other City player during 2013/14, Davies is also well-qualified to comment on the transformation from relegation contenders to play-off candidates since the turn of the year.

He said: “We made some good signings in January and brought a bit more experience into the squad.

I think those older heads have brought solidity to the team but I’m not too sure what you can put the improvement down to because we have been trying hard all season and it just seems to have come together since the start of this year.”

A key factor in the upturn has been performances in defence, where Davies has been part of a back five, including goalkeeper Nick Pope, Lanre Oyebanjo, Keith Lowe and John McCombe, that have conceded just two goals in the eight games they have been teamed together.

Davies reckons the quintet has grown stronger as they become more familiar with one another’s games, adding: “We are doing quite well and going out on to the pitch with confidence.

“We also know each other quite well now, having played a few games back-to-back together.”

The Cumbrian full-back is now relishing the chance to take on fallen giants Portsmouth today and perform in front of his first five-figure crowd for a competitive match.

“I have played in front of big crowds but only in pre-season friendlies,” he confessed. “I’m really looking forward to playing in front of a lot of people and doing a normal job to get three points.”

Davies is also allowing himself to dream of the possibility of both his Championship-chasing parent club and current team both ending their campaigns at Wembley.

“It’s exciting times at both clubs,” he said.

“It’s always good to be involved in promotion pushes and, if Preston keep doing what they are doing, they will make the play-offs quite comfortably.

“We just need to keep our heads down with nine big games to go and do the best we can to see where we finish because there are still lots of points to play for.”