Crewe Alex: Mellor eyes extension to Gresty Road career
K ELVIN Mellor's timing seems impeccable in his quest to earn a new contract.
The rookie defender has won an extended run in the side just as Crewe's play-off bid has come to the boil.
Two months ago the 21-year-old was a back-marker in the defensive ranks.
But he has taken advantage of injuries to the likes of Harry Davis and Dave Artell to showcase his ability at right-back.
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Once viewed as a midfielder in the making by Dario Gradi, he has proved his worth protecting the flank in starting five of Crewe's last six games
"My fingers are crossed that I am doing all right," said the youngster, whose current one-year deal expires at the end of the season.
"I'm not sure what is going to happen in the summer, but hopefully I've done enough.
"I've waited in the wings, but the chance has come for me at the right time, there's no doubt about that."
Before making his first start against Northampton on March 31, Mellor's previous first-team experience during three campaigns as a senior had been limited to substitute appearances.
"The pressure has been on, but you just have to go out there and show what you can do," he explained.
"I think it brings out the best in you and it makes you think you've got to perform otherwise you don't get picked. You've got to be ready to take your chance and Steve Davis has given me that."
As he had before, because Alex boss Davis spotted raw talent in the growing frame of a 16-year-old Mellor when he sold him to Crewe when the duo were serving neighbours Nantwich Town.
Just three months after his senior debut for Nantwich, Mellor was off to Gresty Road after an appearance-related deal – which included a 10 per cent sell-on – was thrashed out with the non-league outfit.
"I knew Steve for a couple of years at Nantwich. He was a good manager there. Now he's come in and taken charge at Crewe and done really well," added Mellor, who believes keeper Steve Phillips's influence will help reassure a youthful back four likely to be without old head Dave Artell for today's decisive clash with Aldershot.
"The fans and players are on a high at the moment. We can't let up now and we have to go out there to try to win the game.
"But we need players like Steve as he has lots of experience. He always encourages the rest of the defenders – it is good to play with him."
Meanwhile, Phillips knows if he collects his 12th clean sheet of the season, the Railwaymen will be guaranteed a top-seven finish.
The 33-year-old has revealed, after the frustrations of playing second fiddle to loanee Rhys Taylor last season, he set himself a target to prove he was the best player in the Alex squad this term.
But he was ultimately edged into second spot in the recent fans' player-of-the-season awards by hot prospect Nick Powell.
"I was only given two starts last year and it was the most frustrating time in the 15 years I've been a professional. I wanted to show everybody what I could do when I was fully fit – I wanted to be our best player," said Phillips.
"In the end I was only pipped at the post by a sensationally gifted 18-year-old.
"But it's been great to be involved and play so many games this year.
"However, until we've got that vital point I'm not getting carried away with my achievement."