Crewe Alexandra: Pre-season exercises are good grounding, says Steve Davis
STEVE Davis says Crewe's pre-season tests against Championship opposition has given his squad the taste of where to aim for.
The Alex's 1-0 win over Barnsley last night followed up a victory by the same margin against Huddersfield Town and a 1-1 draw with Bolton Wanderers.
The trio of home games has left Crewe in shape ready for the season opener against Hartlepool in the first round of the Capital One Cup on Saturday.
Davis is also thinking of the longer term and where he wants to take his side over the next few seasons.
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He said: "We are looking to progress to the Championship and that's the reason we arranged these three games. That is where we want to be.
"Bolton had come down from the Premier League, Huddesfield have gone up from the division we are now in and Barnsley struggled a little in that tier last year.
"They have all given us a good impression of what level we want to try to reach. I'm not saying that's where we are going to go immediately, but that's what we have to aim towards."
Crewe's line-up against Hartlepool is not expected to be too different to that fielded last night, when Davis picked six players who were not in the team which clinched promotion via the play-offs at Wembley in May.
Striker Ajay Leitch-Smith and midfielder Luke Murphy were both given 45 minute outings as they continue their recovery from toe and knee injuries respectively.
Davis, who switched from a 4-4-2 formation to 4-3-3 at half-time last night, says he has a first 11 in mind for three days' time.
He explained: "I've got it sketched out in my head and we will start preparing that team in training on Thursday and Friday.
"We have tried three or four different things against Barnsley and that's what pre-season is for, testing new things and new ideas.
"We have got players who are comfortable playing in more than one system and it's great to have that option, that flexibility.
"Luke and Ajay are both still a little bit behind in their preparations and I didn't want to push them too hard last night, but they are looking better each day.
"Steve Phillips is a more long-term doubt, but other than that we should be approaching a near full squad."