Crewe Alex: Anxious wait as Crewe try to ignore Ashley Westwood suitors
BOSSES in offices, warehouses and yards across South Cheshire might notice a little more clock-watching than usual today.
Crewe skipper Ashley Westwood is a wanted man, and if the transfer window shuts at 11pm with him still on the books at Gresty Road it will be a happy place when Coventry City come to town tomorrow (3pm).
Westwood has forged an impressive partnership in the centre of the Crewe midfield with fellow 22-year-old Luke Murphy after the pair both came through the club's youth system.
But with Premier League side Swansea and Championship outfit Blackpool poised to coming knocking, Crewe manager Steve Davis will not have tempted fate by naming his line-up to take on the Sky Blues early this week.
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It could be a busy day of activity for Davis, below, and his assistant Neil Baker should the right offer be received.
The pair have lined up a list of potential replacements, but would have to act fast to get anything sorted before their second home league game of the campaign.
Westwood apart, Davis has been able to make his preparations for this weekend with some certainty over his personnel, even if he has a number of decisions to make.
Centre-back Mark Ellis is expected to be fit after suffering a cut head challenging West Ham keeper Stephen Henderson during the 2-0 Capital One Cup defeat at Upton Park on Tuesday.
Adam Dugdale sat on the bench for that encounter, with Harry Davis stepping over to the middle from full-back and Kelvin Mellor coming into the team on the right side of defence.
With versatile Matt Tootle (groin) coming through an under-21s win over Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday unscathed, Davis must pick three from five to line up alongside left-back Gregor Robertson in the back four.
Mathias Pogba (knee) is a doubt, but competition for places in midfield and up front is just as hot, especially now summer signing Michael West (heel) is able to stake a claim for a place in the first team.
Mellor, aged 21, is just happy to be back in the mix after a summer spent recuperating from a minor ankle operation and speculation over his future as Derby County pursued his signature.
He said: "It was great to make my comeback, and a great game, against West Ham, to make my return in. It was a real test, but I thought I did okay.
"Understandably I felt a bit tired, but that will improve. I just need match fitness.
"There was no reaction to my injury and I'm just glad to be back. Now it is about trying to keep my place.
"I have had my chance now and hopefully I have taken it and, fingers crossed, I can stay in the team and help Crewe in League One."
In the opposite dug out to Davis will be caretaker boss Richard Shaw, who was given the role after Andy Thorn was sacked when Coventry could only draw their opening three League One games.
Former defender Shaw's last away game as a Coventry player came in a 4-1 defeat at Gresty Road in March 2006, and Crewe will be hoping to pile on more misery as he takes the managerial reins on the road for the first time.
However, the 43-year-old, who made more than 500 appearances for the club in a spell stretching 20 years, could hardly have got off to a better start than beating Birmingham City 3-2 in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday.
His side may have looked frail at the back but, with Carl Baker pulling the strings from just behind the front two, City always looked threatening going forward.
Yet Shaw, less than a week into the job, has been quick to dip into the book of managerial cliches and get his squad focussed on a trip to take on the Railwaymen.
He said: "You have to dig in to get results in League One and, although the lads deserved their result against Birmingham, we put that away on the night and started thinking about Crewe.
"I drove home thinking about Crewe and watched their DVD when I get home because we've set the benchmark now and we have to produce that again."
Shaw has right-back Jordan Clarke (knee) available again after injury, but Thorn's plan to bring in an extra striker on loan is thought to have been shelved.