Hines looks for lead role
Swansea left-back Ben Davies has burst on to the Barclays Premier League scene in some style this season but the teenager from Neath could face one of his stiffest challenges yet in Sunday's Capital One Cup final.
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Zavon Hines may not have been a name the 19-year-old was too familiar with before the build-up to this weekend's Wembley showpiece yet the chances are his manager Michael Laudrup will have told him all he needs to know about the Bradford winger currently enjoying a renaissance in npower League Two.
Hines will go head-to-head with Davies at Wembley and the outcome could go some way to deciding whether Phil Parkinson's famous underdogs can fulfill their impossible dream.
Jamaican-born Hines, 24, spent four seasons in West Ham's first-team squad before suffering a serious knee injury and lost his way following a move to Burnley in 2011 before joining Parkinson's revolution last summer at Valley Parade, where he quickly found his feet.
The former England Under-21 international reminded everyone of his Premier League pedigree in Bradford's semi-final triumph over Aston Villa.
If Davies has any doubts as to Hines' ability he need only ask Villa left-back Joe Bennett, who was led a merry dance for over an hour in both matches.
Hines' display in the first leg in particular caused many to scratch their heads and wonder what he was doing in League Two.
"That's the game," he said. "If someone likes you then that's what happens. At my previous clubs the gaffer didn't fancy me.
"But I'm playing football to play at the highest level. Playing in the final now, we are playing at the highest level.
"I hope either someone somewhere is watching or this club can push on and get higher up the league."
Hines was one of 10 players brought in last summer by Parkinson with the specific aim of ending the club's six-year stint in the bottom division, but although their early season form showed plenty of promotion promise, their unprecedented giant-killing cup run has coincided with a series of disappointing league results.
Asked whether the players had taken their eye off the ball, Hines said: "Yes in a sense because we've clearly dropped down the table a little bit and we haven't won as many games as we were doing at the start of the season.
"But obviously everyone in the team and at the club knows what we've got to do. We've got to concentrate and push for promotion after the cup final."
Parkinson has put his side's fairytale journey to Wembley down to the players' spirit and desire, plus a little help from Lady Luck.
Hines credits his manager, but also believes the squad was full of quality players who had fallen under the radar.
"Without many people knowing, we've got a few good players here," he added. "Everyone's got confidence in their own ability and backed up by the gaffer's belief in us, that's a big factor.
"If you've got your manager on your side that gives you confidence, every second in every game, that will push you that little bit extra to help get you to the top.
"There are quite a few good players here and we know what we've got to do."
Hines, who has played at Wembley for England Under-21s in a 1-0 win over Portugal, said Sunday's final would be the highlight of his career so far.
"Not many people have played in a cup final," he said. "I'm not sure if I'm going to play, but not many players can say they've played in a cup final at Wembley and beating Villa home and away has got to be the best for me."
And on the Welsh teenager who will be marking him closely this weekend, Hines added: "I've heard he's a good player.
"But with me I don't look at other players I come up against, I just play my own game. It's got me this far so I'll stick to that and let him worry about me."