Davies is on upward curve
In April of last year Ben Davies was celebrating FAW Welsh Youth Cup success in front of a meagre crowd at Airbus UK Broughton FC, 10 months later he stands on the brink on winning one of English football's major trophies.
- Related Content
The 19-year-old's meteoric rise has seen him go from being unknown to all but those involved in the Swansea academy system, to a Premier League and international footballer.
When Swansea kicked off preparations for this season back in July, the left-back's aspirations did not go far beyond being involved in Kristian O'Leary's Under-21 side.
But he made enough of an impression on Michael Laudrup during the pre-season tour of the United States that he found himself part of the first-team squad, making his first-team debut as a substitute in the 3-0 win over West Ham.
His progress quickly had to be accelerated when Neil Taylor suffered his broken leg against Sunderland just a week later, but Laudrup was not afraid to put faith in his local lad and Davies has taken to top-flight football like the proverbial duck to water.
His performances have belied his tender years. Davies has shown remarkable composure when faced with the best attacking players the Premier League has to offer, whom he had only previously seen on television.
His consistency and solidity have been such that his error for QPR's goal in Swansea's recent 4-1 victory was the only notable mistake of his debut campaign and he deserves to be a nominee when the Professional Footballers' Association come to put together a shortlist for their Young Player of the Year award.
The last time Swansea were at Wembley - for their Championship play-off triumph over Reading in 2011 - Davies was among the crowd, this time he has the chance to help the Welsh club secure a first major trophy in their centenary season.
He admits his rise has startled even him.
"When you first get the call you do wonder how you will get on, but I didn't really have the chance to get too nervous because I was thrust into it when Neil got injured," he said.
"When you stop and think it can seem a bit crazy but the more experience you get in this environment, the more you get used to it and as the season as gone on I have started to feel at home playing every week.
"It's just been a great season for me. I have a lot of confidence and the more games I play the better I feel.
"When you first come into the side all you think about is trying to mix in with everyone but I have had great support from guys like Ashley Williams and I have proved to myself that I can do it and hopefully things can get even better at Wembley."
But Davies is aware how much his opportunity was tied in with Taylor's ill-fortune.
Taylor sat out the play-off final in 2011 through suspension, and his injury means he will again miss out on a showpiece Wembley occasion.
And Davies will reserve a thought for his team-mate when he walks out on Sunday.
He said: "I speak to Neil regularly and he is always around the training ground and he is a great person to have around.
"He is always willing to chat and pass on advice and it has really helped to have someone like that to talk to, especially as he must be so disappointed to have missed the season and what we have gone on to achieve.
"Things are going great now, but the bad luck Neil has had means I know in a year's time I could be injured or sitting on the bench every week, so I have to keep playing well to stay in this team."