THERE'S some irony about goalkeeper Adam Davies making his late end-of-season League debut for Stoke City.
While Davies' safe hands have helped the Potters cling onto Championship status, his former club, Barnsley, have hit rock bottom and now face a despairing dive into League One.
The irony is that Davies, a Welsh international, was Barnsley's 2019-20 Player of the Year, after an outstanding season between the posts for the Yorkshire club.
Davies moved on to Stoke as intended replacement for Jack Butland, who looked destined to leave the bet365 Stadium at the time, but the England stopper stayed put after the right move failed to materialise.
It's thus been a long and patient wait for Davies, 27, who is rated as one of the best keepers in the EFL and is reflected by his place in the Wales squad.
Davies was a late call-up for Stoke's 2-0 win at home to Birmingham City after Butland was forced to cry off with a neck injury. His only previous first team appearance was in the FA Cup back in January.
Germany-born Davies, who produced an assured display on his League debut, said: "I had an idea that I might play on Saturday when Jack was getting treatment The manager told me to be ready and I got the nod in the morning".
Davies earned high praise from manager Michael O'Neill for his debut performance.
O'Neill said: "I thought he was composed from the outset, kicked extremely well, his handling was excellent and he gave great information to his back four – he looked really assured.
“I’m delighted for him because he has been patient".
Davies added: “It’s obviously frustrating when you are not playing but that’s the situation I’m in.
“I’m just going to keep working hard and when opportunities do come along try my best to take them. It’s then up to the manager to decide who plays.”
Davies produced another assured display on Stoke's 1-1 draw at Bristol City on Wednesday evening and could figure in the team again for tomorrow's visit from third-placed Brentford.
Davies, who was brought up in Warrington, began his football career as a schoolboy on Everton's books, where he was awarded a two-year scholarship after gaining selection for the England Under 16s schoolboys team.