Ben Davies knows how it feels to be down the pecking order under Mauricio Pochettino.
But the Wales left-back is enjoying his longest spell in the Tottenham first team since joining from Swansea in July 2014, in the absence of Danny Rose through injury, and Davies believes he and Kieran Trippier are reaping the rewards from their spells as understudies.
Pochettino expects to discover later on Monday the extent of the injury that forced Trippier off during the first half of their 2-0 win over Juventus on Saturday; the Spurs manager said the former Burnley defender had twisted his ankle after a challenge with Alex Sandro. The 26-year-old left Wembley on crutches and wearing a protective boot but Pochettino appeared upbeat about his chances of featuring against Newcastle on Sunday in their opening Premier League game of the season.
Following the sale of Kyle Walker to Manchester City for a fee that could reach £50m and with Tottenham yet to make a signing since the end of last season, the injury could not have come in a worse position for Pochettino; he has only the England under-20 defender and near-namesake Kyle Walker-Peters to call on if Trippier is ruled out for a significant period. Walker-Peters impressed against the Serie A champions in the second half but has yet to make a senior appearance, meaning the club could decide to firm up interest in Hoffenheim’s Jeremy Toljan, who impressed for Germany at the European Under-21 Championship in June.
With Rose also not expected back from his long-term knee injury until at least the end of the month, Spurs face starting the season with Davies as their only fit senior full-back, an area of the team which excelled last season. “It’s going to be an opportunity for me to get some games and it’s all about trying to do well in those games, then we will see what happens,” said Davies, who admitted he and Trippier have had to be patient since arriving in north London.
“We’re definitely quite similar. We’ve been in and out of the team the time we’ve been here but in any club you’re going to have the rotation system with the amount of games you have. But when you get that jersey you’ve got to try to make the best of the opportunity.”
While Pochettino repeated that Spurs intend to add some new faces before the transfer window closes, the quality of the two goals against Juventus – scored by Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen – showed there remains plenty of talent at his disposal.
After a slow start to last season during which Spurs won only five of their first 11 matches and drew six, Davies believes they are in a strong position to improve this time around.
“It’s a definite confidence boost. It is only pre-season so we can’t look at it too much but overall we’re delighted with the performance and the result,” he said. “We’ve used the pre-season games just to build our fitness ready for the start of the season and this was definitely a confidence-booster to beat a world-class side like Juventus. Anybody would be happy with that.”
First up is the trip to face Newcastle at St James’ Park, where a 5-1 defeat on the final day of the 2015-16 season against a team that had already been relegated condemned Spurs to finishing third behind Arsenal.
“It was a strange game,” said Davies. “None of us as players wanted that to happen and we’re determined for it not to happen again. It’s a game that’s kind of been wiped from our minds and it’s going to be us going there looking to be better than them.
Nobody wants a result like that against anybody. We were a different team then and hopefully we’ve grown and we can show that next weekend.”
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