KEVIN Davies may have switched his allegiances to Preston North End – but the ex-Wanderers skipper has backed his former club to go one better in their promotion push this season.

After leaving the Reebok this summer the 36-year-old striker has turned down a string of offers from the Championship to sign a two-year deal at Deepdale in League One.

Davies admitted he takes with him some regret over the way a decade-long career ended with Wanderers but has left on good terms, and could work with the Academy in the future to help complete his coaching badges.

Now he hopes Dougie Freedman’s side can hit the ground running in the new campaign, though he also warns that this season’s Championship could be an even tougher prospect than it was 12 months ago.

“I think they should be confident because of the way they finished last season, especially at home,” he told The Bolton News. “I really hope they will be right up there.

“It is hard to judge until the transfer window shuts and you’ve seen who has come in and whether any players go out.

“I expect them to be up at the top but when you look at some of the money that is being spent by the teams that have come down from the Premier League, if anything, it will be harder than last season.

“But there are a lot of good players at the club so I hope they do well.”

Davies thanked the Wanderers fans for their support over the last decade and is now hoping for the same backing at his new club, where he has been handed the number nine shirt.

And he said one of the deciding factors in his decision to turn down the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley was the offer of a two-year deal. “I can honestly say I’ve never had a problem or a run-in with anyone in 10 years and I still call Bolton home,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of nice messages from people and it means a lot to me.

“I loved every minute of being at the club for 10 years, barring the last few weeks. Once I retire, I’ll look back at some of the great memories I had at the Reebok, so of course, I wish everyone well there.

“Preston put a two-year deal on the table, which was a big thing for me because I didn’t want to be in this position again next year.

“Preston really pulled out the stops – the owner, Mr (Trevor) Hemmings, flew out to see me twice for a chat.

“And the fans seem happy too, and that is a big thing for me, I want to be a part of it. It’s an exciting new chapter and I want to help them get into the Championship.”

Davies’s departure at Wanderers threatened at one point to develop into a bitter divorce and the former captain admits the end of last season came as somewhat of a relief.

“I felt like I had moved on once I left the car park that Saturday,” he said. “The last few weeks at Bolton were really hard, not knowing whether I would be in the squad.

“Of course I was disappointed when I was told I wouldn’t be getting a new contract but to be honest, I’m disappointed with the way it all fizzled out in the end.

“In one way it was a massive relief when it all finished after the Blackpool game. I desperately wanted the lads to get into the play-offs but once that had gone, it felt like a bit of closure. I could get on with things.”

Davies looked set for a quick reunion after extensive talks with Burnley, who host Wanderers on the opening day.

Some reports suggest that Charlie Austin’s failure to complete his move to Hull City had a knock-on effect – but Davies claims the Clarets were just one of the offers he was considering.

“I didn’t really make my mind up until yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon,” he said. “There were some really good offers – including Burnley – and it was close, really close.

“I was sat in my back garden thinking everything over but in the end Preston just ticked all the boxes for me.

“I didn’t want for things to run on too long. I’ve already lost a bit of pre-season, so I needed to make something happen.”