Crewe Alexandra: Loan stars setting standards kids must emulate, warns Steve Davis
STEVE Davis has thrown down the gauntlet to his own players by telling them to emulate his three loan stars.
The Crewe manager has been impressed by the contribution of Chuks Aneke, Lauri Dalla Valle and Bradden Inman since they arrived at the club.
But even though all three deals are due to be renegotiated next month, Davis has warned that the temporary trio are unlikely to last the season at Gresty Road.
That means he is looking to the permanent members of his young squad to fill their boots, especially when goal scoring is concerned.
He has challenged Ajay Leitch-Smith, Max Clayton and Byron Moore to ensure Crewe continue the good run they have shown with the loan men in their midsts.
“The loan players have done very, very well,” said Davis.
“We weren’t scoring enough goals. That was why I brought in Lauri and Brad, and why we looked at Chuks at the start of the season.
“They have scored 11 goals between the three of them, and where would we be without those? They’ve been very important to us.
“While our own players were trying to find their form and weren’t scoring, these lads have come in and helped us pick up some good results.
“They are not going to be here for the rest of the season so the likes of Ajay, Max and Byron have got to start scoring some goals.
“When they go back they have to jump in where the lads have left off.
“The loan players have been very good for us and hopefully they continue to play a big part all the time they are here.”
Attacking midfielder Aneke, who is on loan from Arsenal, has chipped in with four goals. Striker Dalla Valle, from Fulham, has added the same, while midfielder Inman, from Newcastle, has netted three in his first four games.
In all competitions, that represents more than a quarter of Crewe’s goals for the season; in league games the trio have been responsible for 34 per cent of the Alex’s goals.
Aneke has been on the bench for two of the past three games, but could get another chance at Oldham today if Davis reverts to a 4-2-3-1 formation and needs a man to play just off a central striker.
Dalla Valle has gone four games without finding the net, but remains one of Crewe’s biggest threats going forward.
His loan is due to end on January 8, meaning he will at least be available for the Railwaymen’s forthcoming home games against Carlisle United and Stevenage.
Inman is only scheduled to be available until January 2, meaning the Carlisle match on Tuesday would be his last in Crewe colours unless his deal is extended.
Any loan extensions Davis negotiates could be Crewe’s only business in the transfer window, at least as far as loans are concerned.
The manager added: “We’re looking around to see who’s out of contract come May, seeing who’s available and probably not doing anything in January.
“I think we’ve got a good enough squad, and as the loan players are not going to be here forever it’s down to the players we have already to step up their games.”
Outgoing business is a little harder to gauge, says Davis, but he still does not anticipate losing any of his star assets.
He said: “I can’t say I’m nervous, a little apprehensive perhaps because you don’t know when anyone might make a move.
“I’m not too big a fan of the transfer window, although I can see a big signing might give some clubs a lift at this time of year.
“From our point of view, we don’t want to lose our best players and all we’re going to do is play it quietly, but if I get wind of anything dropping I’ll have to be proactive.”