Crewe Alexandra: Steve Davis 'bullish' ahead of trophy clash against Shrewsbury Town
THERE is probably still a mark on Steve Bull's backside which shows just what Steve Davis thinks about the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
The competition was known as the Sherpa Van Trophy back in May 1988 when Davis, then a 22-year-old centre-half, walked out for Burnley in front of 80,841 fans at Wembley.
His task was to stop Bull, who had already scored 52 goals in 57 games that season as Wolves ended a run of three successive relegations by taking the Division Four crown.
And he made his mark by clattering the soon-to-be England international, although Wolves had the last laugh by recording a 2-0 victory.
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Fast forward 24 years, and Davis will renew acquaintances with Bull's manager that afternoon, Graham Turner, when Crewe enter the tournament against Shrewsbury this evening.
"I know what this competition can do for a club," said Alex boss Davis.
"It was a brilliant day in 1988, fantastic for me at the age of 22 to be playing at Wembley in front of more than 80,000 fans with two big clubs, massively-supported.
"I had to mark Steve Bull and he was on fire. I got booked after 15 minutes for sending him up into the air. But I stopped him scoring. I just followed him around.
"The season before Burnley had almost gone out of the league. I joined from Crewe in the summer and we had a great run.
"It's a good competition for League One and League Two clubs. Some will say they have other things to prioritise, but we will take it seriously. We want to do well."
Davis's record in the Football League Trophy, to give it its official name, is a little better than Crewe's.
The Alex's best campaign came in 2006/07 with a run to the northern section final and a thrilling two-legged tie against Doncaster Rovers, albeit ending in a 6-5 defeat.
In subsequent seasons the Railwaymen have failed to get past the regional quarters, going out to Oldham in Dario Gradi's final game in charge last year.
This time around, it is a 40-mile jaunt down the A49 to meet a side Crewe were promoted alongside last year.
Shrewsbury have been fairly tight at the back, but goal-shy up front on their return to League One, an all-too familiar story for Davis.
He added: "They've been doing reasonably well, but not getting results – similar to us in some respects.
"The step from League Two is a big jump and they are still finding their feet.
"They are not far away and it will be a tough game, but we're looking forward to it."
Wingers Byron Moore (ankle), midfielder Abdul Osman (ankle) and keeper Steve Phillips (knee) are out, but all three could be pushing for a first-team return by Saturday.
For now, though, Davis will go with the same squad that beat Hartlepool 2-1 at the weekend.
Centre-half Adam Dugdale, midfielder Ollie Turton and winger Brendan Daniels are the most likely to break into the starting line-up should he consider changes.
Turner, who oversaw a 1-0 loss at Doncaster last time out, is expected to field a strong side, regardless of a rule that clubs must play at least six players from their last game.
Former Port Vale defender Lee Collins, who is on loan from Barnsley, will be at the heart of the Shrews' back four.