New wave of Crewe young guns aiming to shoot down struggling Mansfield
Struggling Mansfield Town face a searching examination by yet another wave of young Crewe Alexandra talent tomorrow.
The Railwaymen's reputation for developing players in huge in the game and former Stags defender Dave Artell is currently benefiting from the latest crop as his side sit fifth in League Two.
“Crewe are a very good side. David has a team of young players that have grown up together. You can see when they play that they have been together for a number of years,” said Mansfield boss John Dempster, who is looking for a first win in six.
“David is bearing the fruit for a lot of hard work that has gone on in previous years.
“The Crewe set-up is an impressive one, the way they go about their business to try to sell players and play very good football.
“They are up there in the table and rightly so as they have had some fantastic results this season. They are playing with confidence.
“We know Saturday is a massive challenge but I am expecting a very strong reaction from my players after last weekend.”
There's rarely a big turnaround of players at Crewe because the majority of the squad is made up from academy graduates - there were nine in the last league matchday squad.
There is always a clear cycle of young, homegrown players being blooded and the team, though always supplemented with a handful of experienced pros, often suffers while they find their feet.
This group, although still young, is now quite mature with many already boasting well over 100 senior appearances.
With that in mind, Crewe hoped to challenge for the play-offs at least this season, so at the moment are meeting expectations.
Boss Artell is very popular with fans, and has overseen a steady improvement since taking over almost three years ago.
He has bought into the club's philosophy of improving and developing players, and has guided them to a very strong set of results in 2019.
Current star man is Tom Lowery, who plays on the right of a midfield three.
Though never marked out as a superstar in the academy, Lowery has progressed quickly and is now a key part of the team.
Diminutive and skilful, he gets on the ball and makes things happen and is now adding plenty of goals and assists to his game.
Leading scorer Chris Porter is in the twilight of his career but on course for his best ever goals haul. Playing a lone role down the middle, he is an important target for build-up play.
Crewe only have two players out, both until the New Year - defender Olly Lancashire (Achilles) and striker Lewis Reilly (knee).