CRAIG Davies hopes a successful loan spell at Preston can fire him back into the first-team reckoning at Wanderers next season.

The 28-year-old had an immediate impact at Deepdale, scoring the opener on his debut in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Notts County.

It’s a positive start for the striker who has struggled to make an impact at the Reebok since joining from Barnsley 12 months ago for £300,000.

Despite dropping down a division, the former Manchester City trainee says playing is better than sitting on the bench at Wanderers – something he expected to do after Dougie Freedman signed Lukas Jutkiewicz on loan last week.

Although he started against both Cardiff City in the FA Cup and at QPR a week ago, Davies felt a return to the fringes might be on the cards once Freedman informed him of Preston’s interest.

But the Wales international sees it as a chance to prove himself rather than a sign of a bleak future at Wanderers with 18 months still remaining on his contract, particularly after a succession of injuries in the first half of this campaign.

Davies told the Lancashire Evening Post: “I wanted to get out on loan to play football and it was great when I heard Preston were interested.

“In December I had a chat with the Bolton manager and he said I might need to go out on loan to play games because I had been injured for about three months.

“But then I played for 90 minutes in the FA Cup against Cardiff and played again at QPR last Tuesday night.

“I thought to myself then that I had claimed a stake in the team, but last Wednesday I found out differently. For three months I was sat in the physio room going out of my head, so the last thing I wanted to do after starting two games was to go back to the bench.

“I think I’m better than that, I know I’m better than that and I have told him (Freedman) that I’m better than that.

“I want to show everyone that I can still do what I was doing at Barnsley before the move to Bolton.

“Now I’m just concentrating on doing well here for the next few months.

“I have got another year left at Bolton after this and plan to go back in the summer, but things change in football.

“One minute you are one place, the next minute you are somewhere else.

“That was proved in the last few days – I played for Bolton against QPR, then suddenly I was in the Preston team playing Notts County.

“That’s football and is why we love it.”

Davies trained on Friday with his new team-mates, including namesake and fellow former Whites striker Kevin Davies, before being thrown straight in from the start the following day.

But he seized his opportunity to impress, scoring one and having a hand in Preston’s second at Deepdale.

It was certainly a confidence-booster for the player who has started just nine games for Wanderers in the past year.

Davies added: “Sometimes it is good to be thrown in at the deep end, you either sink or swim. Luckily, on this occasion, I swam and it was great that we got the win.

“Before I scored I’d had one or two good chances which went too close to the keeper.

“For the goal I couldn’t have caught it any better, I hit it sweetly and there was no one on the line to help the keeper out.

“The Preston fans gave me a great reception which meant a lot and it was nice to do well on my debut.”