Crewe Alexandra: Keeper Alan Martin looks to hold on to number one spot
ALAN Martin hopes he has done enough to warrant an extended contract after being an ever-present in goal for the Alex this season.
The 23-year-old was told to prove he deserved a place in the first-team squad when he was handed a six-month deal in pre-season.
His promotion to first-team duties this season was part-enforced by an injury to Crewe number one Steve Phillips.
But Martin has done well enough between the sticks this term to ensure his rival for the gloves is not a shoo in for a return as he nears full fitness for the first time this campaign.
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The former Scotland under-21s international said: "I have not heard anything about a new contract, only what the manager has told the press that he would like to keep me, which is good to hear.
"I have only got two or three months left on my contract, so it obviously starts to creep in at the back of your mind that you want to get something sorted out.
"I want to be here and keep progressing. I don't want to be sitting on the bench anywhere.
"My plan all along this year was to become the number one, and I think I've grown and improved more this year than I ever have in the past."
Martin was one of the few shining lights in Tuesday's 2-0 home defeat to Oldham Athletic.
It was certainly the busiest night of his short career so far as the Latics fired in 17 shots on his goal, 10 of which were on target.
But the ex-Ayr United stopper flung himself around the Gresty Road goalmouth to keep the Railwaymen's dignity intact.
Fans will be looking for an instant improvement from the rest of their team when Crewe host Hartlepool United on Saturday, rivals they beat 5-0 in the Capital One Cup on Martin's debut in August.
But the one-time Leeds United trainee knows his place is under pressure from the returning Phillips, who was an ever-present in the Alex's promotion team last season.
He said: "I've only played 10 or 11 senior games and I've still got a lot of learning to do, but I feel like I'm progressing all the time.
"I want to keep clean sheets week in, week out and I've been working hard with Steve as a coach on what I need to do to iron out the creases in my game.
"Now Steve is back in training himself. Of course we are friends no matter what, but he wants that number one jersey back, and I'll be trying my damndest to make sure I keep it.
"We go through the same programme every day and he makes the keepers work hard.
"Whoever wants to be number one will really have to earn it."
CREWE'S Wembley hero Nick Powell has been called up for the England under-21 squad for the first time.
The 18-year-old scored a screamer which helped the Alex beat Cheltenham 2-0 in the League Two play-off final in May, his 15th goal of a breakthrough season.
His form earned a summer move to Manchester United reported to be worth around £6m and he netted against Wigan on his Premier League debut last month.
He has been called up by under-21 boss Stuart Pearce for a Euro 2013 play-off double header against Serbia next week.
Pearce said: "Nick Powell got his move from Crewe, to a massive club at United, and has made his first-team bow. He has a really bright future."