Ben Davies says one of the highlights of a pivotal season for him was getting nominated for the Sky Bet player of month award for February.
The 23-year-old was up against strikers Che Evans (Birmingham) and Teemu Pukki (Norwich) alongside Brentford midfielder Said Benrahma, as PNE went unbeaten during the month.
While he didn’t win, the defender said just being nominated was enough, showing he has come on in leaps and bounds this season.
“I have been nominated for a few man of the match awards which is pleasing, but I am getting to the point where, although I am only 23, I have played quite a lot of games, around 120, and I am getting to the stage where personal performances are important but I am more bothered about the team and the team winning than anything else.
“It’s good to get man of the match, but it doesn’t mean anything if the team lose.
“I was nominated for the player of the month for the whole league in February and that was pleasing and that was probably one of the good parts of the season for me.
“I was getting in the Championship team of the week quite often, but the player of the month nomination was an unexpected, but good, surprise, especially as defenders don’t often get nominated.”
After coming through the ranks at Deepdale and making 35 appearances last season, Ben has improved on that this season and admits this has been a big campaign for him personally and also for the entire squad.
“This has been a transitional season for me, between being a young player to becoming a senior player, getting in the team, playing every week and doing things week in, week out.
“It’s been an important time for me. I think it’s hard to judge the season as a whole. I don’t think I played well until November, I think I was playing alright, but I wasn’t playing really well
“I think that was reflected in our team and the start we had. I don’t know why it was, I didn’t think I was terrible but there were a few minor things which had to be changed and I spoke to the gaffer about it and we addressed it.
“I was playing better and then, at the turn of the year, that’s when I started playing well. I had a hamstring injury which I picked up on Boxing Day and I was out for about three weeks. I came back from my injury for the QPR game, which was the start of our 12 game unbeaten run, and I felt fresh going into those games.
“It felt like everyone did and that’s when we went on a run we needed. Obviously the run after the international break was disappointing. But, in Sheffield United, Leeds and West Brom, we played three of the best four teams in the league.
“It was always going to be hard, but we are capable of winning those games on a good day. We are just disappointed we lost all three of them as we felt we could have got one or two points out of them.
“I think up until that point Jordan [Storey] and I had struck up a good defensive partnership, but those three games against the top teams were tough and it was a test for us.
“Games like these though are important as I feel like we are always learning as a squad. We have been challenging for the Play-Offs for two seasons now and it shows we are established in this league and looking up rather than looking down.
“We have had a mixed season and some people will say it hasn’t really been successful but I think the experience that our players have gained throughout the season is invaluable.
“For players to play week in, week out and play against other good players and do well but sometimes struggle and then come out the other side, I think it’s been an important season for us. Sometimes on the way to doing well, you need to have setbacks to learn from them.”
There is loads more from Ben in Saturday’s final edition of the matchday programme this season, plus interviews and features with many more, including, Jordan Storey, Lukas Nmecha, Marlon Broomes, Chris Kirkland, Alex Mathie and Louis Moult.
The 100-page edition of the official matchday programme is still just £3 and is on sale from Friday afternoon from the club’s Sir Tom Finney Stand ticket office and from the sellers inside and outside the ground on matchday, so make sure you pick up your copy.