Crewe Alexandra: Adam Dugdale ready to put body on line for Wembley date
ADAM Dugdale is relishing "a night for defenders" as Crewe try to protect a three-goal lead and reach Wembley.
The Alex are massive favourites to progress when they take on Coventry City at Gresty Road (7.30pm) in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy northern final second leg.
But Coventry's tally of 25 shots added to dozens of blocks needed by Crewe in the first leg suggests the Sky Blues could create enough chances for a nail-biting evening.
Tough centre-back Dugdale is licking his lips at the prospect of a battle.
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The 25-year-old is prepared to put his body on the line to ensure the Coventry do not pull off the biggest ever comeback in the history of area finals in the competition.
He said: "As a defender, nights like this are what I get my kicks out of; taking one in the face and another one where it hurts.
"The likes of Ajay Leitch-Smith and Max Clayton get their buzz from scoring goals, but I get mine from keeping clean sheets.
"I can't wait for it to be honest. We'll take everything they can throw at us and hopefully we'll be fine."
Goalkeeper Steve Phillips produced one of the best performances of his 15-year career to keep a shut-out in front of a 31,000-strong crowd at the Ricoh Arena a fortnight ago.
Dugdale admits the stopper has not let his team-mates forget about his heroics. He said: "As a team I thought we defended very well, then when they did sneak through Steve was there to make some really good saves.
"He keeps telling us how good he was that night, in fact he never shuts up about it!
"But he's a good keeper and he's experienced those kinds of occasions before.
"For a lot of the lads, including me, it was the biggest gate we'd played in front of, but Steve is never afraid to keep talking to make sure everyone is focused.
"He's a leader and the more leaders you have on the pitch the better. We're still a young side, but we help each other out."
Coventry are bringing 2,500 fans to South Cheshire hoping their team can thrive without the pressure of expectancy.
Caretaker boss Lee Carsley, right, who has replaced Huddersfield Town-bound Mark Robins since the last meeting, says Crewe cannot spring any surprises on his side.
He said: "I have watched them four or five times now and I know exactly how they play, so I am not going to be surprised by them.
"I managed a team of under-21 players against them which includes the majority of their subs and players not in the team, so I know what they can do as well. Touch wood, I have a lot of bases covered."
Nathan Cameron has been restored to central defence in place of the more flamboyant William Edjenguele as Carsley makes his side's first priority keeping it tight.
Cameron said: "That has to be the case because if we concede one or two then that's it, we're out.
"They already think they are going through, so we have nothing to lose – we are 3-0 down, but I have seen stranger things happen.
"We have to score four goals at some point in this game so we have to go and attack, but we must defend sensibly as well.
"If we get a couple then I am sure they will get a bit shaky and after that you never know what could happen."