Davies relishing Royals appointment
26th July 2013
Ben Davies believes Saturday's Royals appointment with Reading will be perfect preparation ahead of the Swans' Europa League campaign.
Michael Laudrup's side will face Swedish side Malmo in the third qualifying round, with the first leg at the Liberty on Thursday, August 1 (7.45pm) and the return leg a week later at the 24,000-capacity Swedbank Stadion with a 7pm kick-off (6pm UK time).
The Swans have enjoyed a successful pre-season period, which has included a tour of Holland and domestic games against Yeovil Town and Exeter City.
But the curtain comes down on the preparations with a trip to the Madejski Stadium on Saturday (3pm) to face Championship outfit Reading.
And the 20-year-old feels it is the type of test that will prepare them for their opening Euro tie.
"I think the management staff and the players have taken a lot from this pre-season," said the Wales international.
"It's not about the results - winning every game so far is a bonus - it's more about fitness and building partnerships and confidence on the pitch, and I think we have done that.
"Now we have Reading in the final pre-season game before Europe, and I think it's a perfect game for us.
"Reading were in the Premier League last season, and we had two very tough games against them.
"They are busy preparing for their season too, so their players are all out to impress their manager. I expect it to be like a Premier League game.
"After Saturday - on top of everything else we have done so far - I think we will be ready for the Europa League matches."
With only a sprinkling of experience of European football within the Swans squad, it will very much be a new venture for the majority of players within Laudrup's squad.
But Davies reckons the experience he has picked up at international - along with Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor and Jonjo Shelvey - could prove useful in the Euro campaign.
"Not many have us have played in Europe before, so it's very much new ground for us," said the left-back.
"European football will offer a different challenge to what many of us are used to, but we have guys who have played for their country, and I think that will benefit us."
For Davies, it would be another string to his bow after a remarkable 12 months in his career.
He rose prominence last season for both club and country following Neil Taylor's ankle injury last September, with Davies proving a key figure of Laudrup's defence.
With Taylor now fully recovered, Davies faces strong competition for the left-back slot.
But sees the competition for places as a major positive for the squad and manager.
"When you look at the squad you see a lot of quality players pushing for the same position, and that will only help us strive to push on and improve," added Davies.
"I'm sure the manager is happy with the strength in depth that he has too, but we are all pushing each other along instead of competing against each other for starting positions.
"It's a long season with a lot of fixtures, so I'm sure everyone will play their part throughout the campaign.
"To play in the Premier League for the Swans was a dream come true for me, and so too was playing for my country.
"So to play in Europe would be another different challenge, and it's one I'm looking forward to."
Tickets for the Europa League opener can be purchased HERE via the relevant links.