ALEX Davies will begin Lancashire's season tomorrow behind the stumps against Essex with an endorsement from head coach Glen Chapple ringing in his ears.
The Darwen gloveman saw his 2016 campaign ended early by injury and having had an unimpeded run at the Red Rose wicket-keeping spot last year the 22-year-old now faces competition from Brooke Guest and new Kolpak recruit Dane Vilas.
But Chapple has backed Davies as his number one for the start of the season and he will take the gloves at Chelmsford today, although he knows that is no long-term guarantee of keeping his place all season.
"That’s brilliant to be backed by your coach and that sort of security, knowing you’re going into the season as number one, is awesome," he said.
"But it doesn’t mean it’s my spot and nothing can to happen to it. If I keep bad or bat bad I’ll be out of the team, there’s a lot of competition."
Davies has been putting the hard yards in over the winter after he returned to fitness from a knee operation just as last season was coming to a close.
He has spent much of the off-season working with the former Red Rose wicket-keeper Warren Hegg, who is now sponsorship and business development manager at Old Trafford.
"He’s been involved a bit this winter, in the indoor centre and he came on a trip to Desert Springs in Spain and Dubai," said Davies.
"It’s awesome. I grew up watching Heggy keep and although we are different styles of keepers he’s got a lot to offer to me and things that only a keeper can see.
"It’s been brilliant having him around and we get on really well.
"Sometimes only a keeper knows what a keeper needs. Heggy has been there and he understands when I say ‘I felt like this today’ or ‘I felt like that today’.
"He’s got other roles in the club in the business side but I’m lucky he’s taken me to the side a few times and I can grab some experience of him."
Lancashire will be aiming for another flying start to their Division One County Championship campaign and their chances at Essex have been boosted by the absence of former England captain Alastair Cook.
A year ago Lancashire, then under the guidance of Ashley Giles, led the race for the title early on before their form fell away as the season progressed.
But Davies has set his sights of winning trophies this year and sustaining that push for silverware into the back end of the season.
"As a squad we sit down every year and set our targets out and we’re about winning trophies now," he said.
"That excites us, it excites the fans. We’re a massive club and we can only really reward that by winning trophies.
"It’s wide open (in the Championship) most years but as the season progresses it’s normally the same counties who are going to the top.
"That’s the aim for us, to be in the hunt further down the line, not just start well like we have been doing, we want to be in the hunt all the way through to September really."