Crewe Alexandra: Let's get physical to combat high-fliers Bournemouth, says Steve Davis
STEVE Davis wants his players to embrace the dying art of tackling as Crewe prepare for one of the toughest defensive assignments of the season.
The Alex will come up against one of League One's strongest forward lines when they take on Bournemouth at Dean Court today (3pm).
Matt Tootle is struggling with a virus and Jon Guthrie could be handed a full debut at left-back, while Adam Dugdale, Harry Davis and Mark Ellis compete for two central spots.
The manager is clear he does not want to see his side scared to make a challenge in fear of a modern clampdown on physical play.
"It's definitely an art, if you can time a tackle well or get in a last ditch block," said the former centre-half.
"If you can come away with the ball from the front without leaving the ground it is a real skill. Interceptions, poking your foot around the centre-forward to grab the ball and read his touch, it's to be applauded.
"As a defender we do that in our sessions. We teach them how to jockey and stay on their feet, not jumping around in the box to give penalties away.
"Ball retention is vital to the top teams in Spain, but if you look at the bottom half they don't play such technical football, they get it long and play like teams in League One.
"The best coaches play to their players' strengths."
Keeper Alan Martin (ankle) has been ruled out of action for today's match, but young forward Ryan Colclough (head) is in the squad.
Max Clayton is hoping for a recall to the forward line, with Ajay Leitch-Smith most likely to make way.
A win could haul Crewe up from 13th to ninth and within three points of sixth-placed Bournemouth with a game in hand.