Crewe Alex: Murphy has grown with responsibility, says Davis
STEVE Davis believes giving Luke Murphy the captain's armband has helped the midfielder lift his game to a new level.
Murphy is averaging more shots, assists and goals per game this season in League One than he managed in either of the previous two campaigns in the basement division.
But, at the age of 23, it is his all-round improved contribution which has impressed manager Davis.
The former Alsager School student took over as skipper in September after his old mate Ashley Westwood clinched a £2m move to Premier League Aston Villa.
SCHC38DB DAB+ HiFi system with bluetooth & new iDock
Was £199.97 May offer £179.97
SAVE AN EXTRA £15 with this voucher ONLY £154.90
SAVING £45 total
To buy for only £154.90 print this voucher and call in at Hanley to see us, car park behind store.
Panasonic experts at the West Midlands destination Store found in Hanley city centre ST1 1EF
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Thursday, June 06 2013
And impressive form week in, week out since then has seen him gain a reputation as one of the most highly-rated players in the third tier.
"Luke is taking on the extra responsibility as captain and is producing consistent performances," said Davis.
"He a local lad (from Rode Heath) and deserved the captain's armband after Ash left.
"He has taken the role on and is growing in stature. He is playing with real maturity and is showing everyone what a good player he is."
Murphy will lead out Crewe at Gresty Road tomorrow against a Crawley Town side who are chasing their third successive promotion.
The Sussex outfit were promoted alongside the Railwaymen back in May, having only climbed into the Football League for the first time 12 months earlier.
Steve Evans masterminded both those elevations, but his departure for Rotherham in April has not derailed the club's rise.
Sean O'Driscoll was appointed as Evans' successor in May, but left for Nottingham Forest two months later allowing Richie Barker take on the job.
Ex-Bury boss Barker has brought in six new players to add to four signed up by O'Driscoll, meaning Crawley have a completely different look than Alex fans may remember.
Just Josh Simpson, Hope Akpan and Gary Alexander from the starting line-up in a 1-1 draw with Crewe in April are expected to start tomorrow – although Davis will probably only name three from his own team that day as well.
Barker is sweating on the fitness of highly-rated centre-back Kyle McFadzean, who has been suffering from a virus which saw him ruled out last weekend and last only 44 minutes of a 1-0 midweek defeat to Yeovil.
Mark Connolly is ready to deputise again and he says the squad is desperate for a pick-me-up after only losing to the Glovers courtesy of a last minute David Hunt own goal.
He said: "We were really hurting after the game because to lose like that was pretty devastating, but the gaffer picked us up afterwards.
"He told us that it was a good performance and he's right – and we have the resolve in the squad and the quality to get back on track and that will start against Crewe."
Former Macclesfield loanee defender Connolly is expecting a good atmosphere at Gresty Road (3pm), providing his own fans are allowed to take a drum through the turnstiles.
He said: "Away from home our supporters have been absolutely superb with the drummer and singing all through the game.
"We will take a good following up to Crewe and hopefully reward them with another good performance."