Davis makes Fulham bow

Ben Davis, 18, receiving instructions from manager Scott Parker before coming on against Southampton in the League Cup. It was the teenager's first senior appearance for Championship side Fulham. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/ BEN_JAMES_DAVIS
Ben Davis, 18, receiving instructions from manager Scott Parker before coming on against Southampton in the League Cup. It was the teenager's first senior appearance for Championship side Fulham. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/ BEN_JAMES_DAVIS

Singaporean comes off the bench in League Cup 1-0 defeat for English second-tier club

Ben Davis, 18, made his first-team debut for English club Fulham on Tuesday, coming on as a late substitute in his team's 1-0 loss to Premier League side Southampton in a second-round League Cup clash.

He replaced fellow midfielder Luca de la Torre in the 89th minute with the Championship club already trailing to Michael Obafemi's second-half strike.

In his post-match press conference, Fulham manager Scott Parker said he was pleased with how some of the second-tier club's academy players, like Davis, integrated into the first team. He said: "The most pleasing thing for me was that the young players got a chance to be involved and around it.

"I want every young player at this football club to understand that if they do things the right way, work hard, they'll get an opportunity.

"When you're young, it's about opportunity, so it was a big plus to see the young boys on tonight, even if it was for two or three minutes, it's still a massive experience for them.

"The four debuts, the six young Academy lads who were involved and the senior players who have had a very good pre-season have come in and got some game time."

In an Instagram post which also showcased his first-team squad squad No. 38, Davis said: "Glad to make my professional debut tonight despite the unlucky result."

In February, the Ministry of Defence said Davis had defaulted on his national service commitments. It also noted he is staying overseas without a valid exit permit.

QUALITY OVER AGE

I want every young player at this football club to understand that if they do things the right way, work hard, they'll get an opportunity.

SCOTT PARKER, Fulham manager, leaving the door open for young talent emerging at the club.

"Mr Davis has committed offences under the Enlistment Act, and is liable upon conviction to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years," it added.

The Phuket-born teenager had signed professional terms with Fulham - who were in the Premier League last season - in July last year, the first Singaporean to do so with a top-tier English club.

A former student at the Singapore Sports School, he moved to London in 2015 to join Fulham's academy, where he is registered as an English national.

After he signed pro terms last year, Mindef confirmed his application for NS deferment had been rejected as he did not "meet the criteria for long-term deferment from full-time NS".

The reasons for the decision were explained by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in Parliament in August last year.

Dr Ng said Davis' father Harvey had "consistently refused to indicate" when his son would return to serve NS, if it is deferred, and noted the deferment application was to further Davis' professional career "first and to the longest extent possible. Singapore and her interests, including his son's NS obligations, are secondary considerations, if at all."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2019, with the headline 'Davis makes Fulham bow'. Print Edition | Subscribe