Losing two players can’t quite be classed as an injury crisis, but when those two players are your vice captain and your only left back then you’ve got a big problem on your hands.
Crewe’s start to the season has gone from bad to worse, not only have The Alex now not scored in four league games and have conceded seven goals in the last two games, they are now also without two of their key players.
Pixie has arguably been Crewe’s most consistent performer so far this campaign, even when the team hasn’t performed he has still shown promise. Not only has he been consistent, Pickering also offers Crewe great versatility and so far this season he has played both in defence and midfield. Pickering came off during Crewe’s 6-0 defeat to Colchester last Tuesday, and if the 6-0 defeat wasn’t bad enough it has today being confirmed that Pickering suffered a Hamstring tear and is likely to be out for a number of months. Artell said that
“Harry has a grade 3 hamstring tear and that means he will be out for a long time as well. It is what it is and you just have to get on with it.”
Left back is probably the one position that Crewe couldn’t afford an injury in, as it is the one position they lack any depth in. Despite both Perry Ng and Nicky Hunt covering at left back so far this season neither players are naturals out on the left. Luckily for Crewe the loan window is still open, and if they want to make sure that the damage of Pickering’s injury is minimal then a short term loan is just what we need.
With Crewe being renowned for their ability to develop young players many top clubs wouldn’t hesitate to send a player out on loan to Gresty Road. The most successful loanee to come to Gresty Road is arguably Everton’s Gylfi Sigurðsson, the Icelandic international spent a season on loan at Crewe in 2009 and has since gone on to establish himself as a quality Premier League attacking midfielder. With Pickering out until around Christmas, any left back who can come in on loan would be guaranteed first team football making any loan deal useful for both parties.
If Crewe cant’t sort out a loan deal before the window officially shuts at 5pm on the 31st August then they will have a serious problem until Pixie’s return.
The more serious of the two injuries is that of Paul Green, as the 35 year old could be out till the end of the season. Green has Captained Crewe four times so far this season and brings important experience to an otherwise youthful midfield. Artell said that
“It is something we will have to deal with and get on with. It is a big blow for Paul and a big blow for us because he is a very good player, a great pro and a great fella.”
Green’s knee injury that he suffered during a 50/50 challenge with Carlisle goalkeeper Joe Fryer means that not only do Crewe lose a good central midfielder, but also an important team leader as with him out and Ray still not fully fit it is unclear who will now captain the side.
Green came in on loan during the second half of last season and was instrumental in Crewe avoiding a relegation battle. When the midfielder’s loan move became permanent in the summer, it was clear that he was going to be crucial for The Railwaymen this season and his loss would impact any side in the league.
Unlike the Pickering situation, Crewe actually have good depth in the centre of midfield. This depth has led to natural central midfielders like James Jones playing out of position on the right of a midfield four in order to get minutes, a position which he doesn’t always look comfortable in. With Green out of the side it offers Jonah a chance to play in his preferred position, which can only be seen as good thing for Crewe and the young midfielder. With Jonah likely moving inside, both wide places can now be occupied by natural wingers meaning that Callum Ainley and Charlie Kirk can consistently play in the same side, this will hopefully offer Crewe more of a threat out wide. Midfielders like fan favourite Tommy Lowery and youngster Oliver Finney will also see Green’s injury as a opportunity to impress and hopefully force their way into the starting XI.
The injuries to both Green and Pickering has the potential to drastically affect the outcome of Crewe’s season as most teams in the division would miss players of their quality. However providing that Artell brings in a new left back, and the rest of the boys can fill the gap left by the experienced Green then hopefully Crewe can get back to winning ways.
Eddie Nolan will now be even more key than ever to Crewe’s season. As one of the more experienced members of the squad Nolan will have to cover for the loss of Green’s experience, and personally I would like to see him captain the side when Ray can’t play. Nolan also usually played as the left centre back in Crewe’s back four, so will be crucial in either covering for someone who isn’t naturally a left back such as Ng or Nolan or helping a new signing adjust to life at Crewe’s left back position.