Crewe Alexandra: Matt Tootle ban leaves Railwaymen with defensive headache
NEIL Baker says Crewe are weighing up a defensive re-think as they deal with Matt Tootle's one-match suspension.
Full-back Tootle had arguably delivered a man-of-the-match display against Doncaster on Tuesday before being sent off for a second booking in the dying moments of the game.
The Alex let slip a 1-0 lead in stoppage time, but progressed on penalties to the Johnstone's Paint Trophy northern area semi-finals.
However, a problem remains for the League One trip to Preston on Saturday as regular right-back Kelvin Mellor is still injured.
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It is a headache Baker says Crewe could do without and hardly deserved.
When referee Trevor Kettle issued Tootle with his marching orders for a clumsy rather than nasty foul, it was 22-year-old's first dismissal in 137 senior appearances.
Baker added: "I'm not surprised Matt has never been sent off before because he's not that type at all.
"In conditions like we had on Tuesday it was easy to mistime a tackle, so he will be disappointed.
"It leaves us short in that position because Kelvin is not quite ready to come back yet.
"Matt will be a loss to us because it's not a position we are overly blessed with players so we will have to have a look to see what we can do."
Left-back Gregor Robertson is the only out-and-out senior full-back remaining for the trip to Deepdale.
Harry Davis played at right-back when the Railwaymen won promotion from League Two last season, but has been a revelation in central defence this time around.
The 21-year-old was rewarded for his form by taking the captain's arm band against Doncaster because skipper Luke Murphy missed the game with a slight groin strain.
Manager Steve Davis would be reluctant to push Davis junior back wide, although he does have cover available in the middle.
Instead, he could be tempted to promote rookie 18-year-old Paris Bateman, or even hand a first start to 19-year-old Jon Guthrie.
Guthrie, who joined from Wessex Division One side Pewsey Vale in February, is being groomed for a potential switch from centre-half to full-back.
Either way, it is unfortunate timing for Tootle who had been excelling while covering for Mellor on the right in recent weeks having spent most of his Crewe career on the other side.
The Alex were not particularly fuming at the injustice of the cautions, but rather that Tootle had been punished while others had avoided cards for worse.
Baker said: "I don't think we can complain about the first yellow card (for a rash tackle on James Husband), but the second I'm not too sure.
"He tried to win the ball from behind the player (Robbie Blake), but that was going on all night.
"Their right-back (Andy Griffin) should have been booked in the first 10 minutes after he scythed Max Clayton to the ground.
"Ryan Colclough was brought down in the corner as well, but the referee never even had a word.
"I thought the tackle from behind had been outlawed, but with the referee it was like tossing a coin."