Martin potential had to be coaxed out, says manager
ALAN Martin has been praised for his new-found desire after signing an extended contract with Crewe.
The 23-year-old number one has upgraded the six-month terms he was given last summer into a long-term deal which will last until the end of next season.
Manager Steve Davis says he never doubted the Alex had a good keeper on their hands, but says his potential with the gloves has needed to be coaxed out.
He explained: "Alan has really reacted to what we said in the summer when we felt he had been underachieving.
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"Me and Neil Baker had seen his ability in training, but he was too content to sit around not challenging Steve Phillips enough for the number one spot.
"He came back fitter and raring to show us what he could do. You are not a Scottish under-21 international for nothing and he's shown he really is a decent keeper.
"He's kick-started his career and we hope there is more to come."
Martin is not by any means the only young stopper learning his trade in League One, a division where only six first-choice keepers are over 26 years old.
Bournemouth's David James, aged 42, may be pushing up the average but Doncaster, Stevenage, Leyton Orient, Yeovil and Oldham have all put faith in keepers who are 23 or younger.
Crewe have been boosted further up the field by the return to training of right-back Kelvin Mellor, who has not played since hyper-extending his knee at Doncaster early last month.
The 21-year-old will be fighting to be in contention for the Railwaymen's next game, at home against Bury on Saturday.
Forward Ajay Leitch-Smith (foot) is pencilled in for a return to full training tomorrow but it could be at least another week before he can challenge for a place in the first-team squad.
Davis said: "Kelvin is naturally a very fit lad and it doesn't tend to take him long to get back up to speed.
"Whether or not he will be quite ready for Saturday we'll have to see. We just wanted to keep Ajay back a little longer to make sure he was right.
CREWE'S FA Youth Cup third-round tie at Rochdale last night was postponed because of a frozen pitch.
The match is now next Monday (7pm).