Sam Allardyce says Kenwyne Jones can learn from Kevin Davies to become one of the best strikers in the Premier League.
The former Bolton boss will be at Wembley for tomorrow's semi-final showdown between Stoke and Wanderers as a pundit for match broadcasters ESPN.
And Allardyce has revealed he wanted to sign Jones for Blackburn last summer when Stoke broke their club record to land the striker from Sunderland for £8m.
Rovers couldn't match Stoke's offer, but Allardyce remains a huge admirer of the Trinidad and Tobago international, who has netted eight goals this season.
He said: "I would have loved to sign Kenwyne Jones 12 months ago when I was at Blackburn.
"We were very interested in looking at him from Sunderland, but we couldn't match the money at the time.
"He has been talked about as being inconsistent, but inevitably the price reflects that.
"The £8m Stoke paid for him is a drop in the ocean in Premier League terms, compared with the £35m that Liverpool paid for Andy Carroll for example.
"If you are paying £8m for a player in the Premier League then they aren't going to be perfect.
"But unfortunately people focus on what players can't do rather than what they can.
"People talk about Kenwyne Jones's inconsistency, but I think that will improve with age, as happened with Kevin Davies. He's definitely a good example for Kenwyne."
Allardyce isn't surprised that Tony Pulis was so keen to land Jones.
He explained: "He plays in a pivotal position. In fact, there's an old saying that if your front players play well then the team plays well.
"He is predominantly known for his ability in the air, but I think he has got much more than that.
"Like Kevin Davies, he doesn't get the credit for his hold up play and the way he brings other players into the game.
"Kenwyne also scores goals, so he is an important player for the team."
Allardyce is also delighted to see that his former player Jon Walters has established himself as Jones's strike-partner and is Stoke's nine-goal top scorer.
Allardyce signed the 27-year-old for Bolton 10 years ago, but sold him to Hull for £50,000 three years later.
Walters rebuilt his career at Wrexham, Chester and Ipswich before a £2.75m move to Stoke last summer.
Allardyce said: "We took Jon from Blackburn, but at that young age I think he found it difficult to break into what was a Premier League team.
"Instead, he went down and served his apprenticeship in the lower leagues and has worked his way back.
"Not many players do that these days and get up to the Premier League, so that is great credit to his dedication and professionalism.
"You learn your trade and you get the buffeting and battering at that level. You find out what the game is all about rather than playing in a Premier League reserve side, which I don't believe is as beneficial.
"Kenwyne Jones did the same thing at Southampton. I would like to see more players do that and work their way up.
"It is more difficult because of the greater influx of foreign players into the top flight, so the players who do it have to be dedicated and work extremely hard."
The striker Allardyce will know best of all on Sunday is Davies, who he took on a free transfer from Southampton to Bolton in the summer of 2003.
He helped transform him from a player surplus to requirements at St Mary's to a key player in the Bolton side which reached Europe.
Allardyce said: "His belief in his own ability has helped him reinvent himself.
"He was lost as a professional footballer having been freed by Southampton.
"He had seen the bright lights having been transferred for lots of money and, I think, at a young age had taken football for granted.
"But it kicked him up the backside when he found himself freed by Southampton and not wanted by too many people. Bolton was his last chance in the Premier League."
"As much as we worked with him, he also wanted to change himself. He became a massive threat as a Premier League centre-forward and is also a great person off the field, as shown by his charity work in Bolton."
Unusually for an opposition player, the 34-year-old Davies has tended to get grudging respect from Stoke fans in their games against Bolton.
Allardyce believes that is because of the striker's approach to the game.
He explained: "Kevin is a very honest player. He will stand up and take a battering from central defenders ... and then give it back to them.
"There is no defender who gets an easy time from Kevin."
Not surprisingly, Allardyce believes Davies could be the match-winner at Wembley – but he also believes Bolton's defence have a huge fight on their hands against Jones and Walters.
He said: "Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross are very competitive aerially, so it will be a great contest on Sunday.
"Huth and Shawcross have the size and strength to cope, but whether they will be good enough on the day I don't know.
"It depends on the service to Bolton's frontmen Davies and Johan Elmander. If that is right then it is very difficult to stop them.
"But it's the same situation at the other end. Gary Cahill has had an outstanding season, but whether he plays with David Wheater or Zat Knight it will be a big ask for them to cope with the pace and power of Kenwyne Jones and Jonny Walters."
ESPN will be showing the FA Cup semi-final between Stoke City and Bolton Wanderers – live and exclusively – tomorrow at 4pm from Wembley Stadium. Presenters Ray Stubbs and Rebecca Lowe will be joined by Kevin Keegan, Steve McManaman, Robbie Savage and Sam Allardyce.