THE Swindon Town coaching staff will do all they can to prepare their players for the physicality of Kevin Davies ahead of the visit of Preston North End tomorrow.
Davies was fortunate not to be sent off for two heavy challenges – on Nathan Thompson and Grant Hall – when Town lost 2-1 at Deepdale in September and the former England international is known throughout the Football League for his aggressive and potent presence in opposition territory.
This weekend he will come up against a relatively inexperienced Town defence, with Jack Stephens expected to partner Troy Archibald-Henville once more after the duo excelled in the goalless draw on Saturday, and Swindon manager Mark Cooper is well aware that the pair need to be fully briefed on what they may well face.
“We try to make them aware. I’m sure they’ve watched him on Match of the Day plenty of times but we’ll make him aware of his strengths. He plays on the edge, doesn’t he, and he’s a big threat when he plays,” he told the Advertiser.
“He gets free-kicks, he gets a team’s defence pegged back in their own box and he can score goals. We’re fully aware of the threat and we’re just hoping our defenders stand up to it.
“I think you can show them how he backs in, how he gets free-kicks, how he entices defenders into pinching the ball off him. We can show them that and make them aware of how he does it.”
After the defeat at Deepdale earlier in the season, Cooper suggested that Swindon were bullied out of the game by Preston but he feels his side are learning how to stand up to physical tests.
“I think we coped on Saturday with a big-ish team in Bristol City. They had a lot of big players in there and we coped well with that. It’s a little bit different at home. We’re expected to take the game to our opponents and have the vast majority of the ball,” he said.
“I watched (Preston) the other night and they’ve got Craig Davies and Kevin Davies to come off the bench, if he doesn’t start. That’s vast experience of the Premier League and the Championship, so it’s difficult.
“We have to fight and scrap like we did on Saturday and try to do the best we can.”