Crewe Alexandra: Harry Davis looks to rise to different type of challenge
THERE is a 14-year, eight-inch and 400-game difference between the two opponents Harry Davis will encounter in two games in League One.
On Saturday, the 21-year-old centre-back was in a tussle with giant former Crewe youth striker Tom Eaves as the Alex played out a 1-1 draw with Shrewsbury.
Tonight, he will go head-head with diminutive ex-Crewe forward Ryan Lowe, the League One veteran who now leads the line for MK Dons.
Davis relishes the challenges posed by little and large and his dad, manager Steve Davis, says mastering those different tests will prove the making of any defender.
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Davis junior said: "It's something different every week. Saturday was a physically tough game for myself and Mark Ellis; Shrewsbury's strikers are a handful and I enjoy those battles against the big lads.
"You have to stand up to it, the presence of the powerful lads and be as physical as you can back.
"Tonight will be a contrast. Shrewsbury were very direct, getting it up to the big lads whereas against MK Dons it will be a good footballing game for the supporters to watch.
"We know Ryan is so good at putting the ball in the net, so we've got to be on it and concentrating all the time."
Davis senior, a former centre-back himself, is proud that Crewe have the second best home defensive record in the division – but is still intent on improving at the back.
He said: "The way MK Dons play and their approach in the attacking half will be much different to what Shrewsbury did, getting long balls into the big man and getting runners off him and a lot of crosses.
"The higher you play that is less apparent, with the football they play they build it up a bit more through the midfield. It's not necessarily high long crosses, it's quality balls into people's feet.
"MK Dons are a lot more precise and it's a thinking man's game as a defender playing at that higher level.
"They play like a Championship team, as we try to, and it becomes more tactical and about reading the game rather than brute force and power.
"You need a bit of both as a centre-half. You need to be able to adapt to big or quick, and quick-thinking strikers. They test your ability mentally and physically."
Lowe, who scored 17 goals in 74 outings during a two-year stint at Crewe from 2006, was linked with a move back to the Alex earlier this season.
Instead, he has forged a regular starting place in the team at MK Dons, albeit a team which has slipped out of the immediate promotion picture.
Still, a win tonight would send the team within six points of the play-offs ... while a win for Alex would take them level on points with MK Dons in 12th.
Crewe, meanwhile, have now sold 8,000 tickets for their Wembley date against Southend United in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final on Sunday, April 7.
They have reduced admission prices for home matches either side of the showpiece, against Preston North End on Monday, April 1 and against Brentford on Wednesday, April 10.
Adult tickets will cost £13, with OAPs £9, 12 to 16 year olds £3 and under-11s £2.
Club spokesman Rob Wilson said: "Tickets sales for Wembley have been steady since going on general sale. It is a bit different from the play-offs when time was of the essence.
"We appreciate times are tough and we are doing everything we can to make sure our fans have all the means to get down to Wembley again."