The Inside track on Crewe Alexandra: What Middlesbrough can expect ahead of Carabao Cup meeting
Middlesbrough will welcome Crewe Alexandra to the Riverside in the Carabao Cup tonight – but what can Boro expect from the League Two side?
We caught up with Peter Morse, sports editor at the Crewe Chronicle, to get the inside track on the visitors.
1. How are Crewe shaping up after pre-season and their opening two fixtures?
PM: “After a solid pre-season they were disappointed with the opening day defeat to Plymouth (3-0) - the scoreline did not truly reflect the performance. There were worrying signs when they conceded a very early goal for the second game running at Oldham, but will feel much more confident and settled after coming from behind to deservedly take all three points.”
2. Who are Crewe's key players and who will Boro need to look out for?
PM: “As ever, the homegrown players are the ones Crewe have the highest hopes for. In attack, Charlie Kirk brings creativity and goal-threat from a wide position, while in midfield the dependable Ryan Wintle is emerging as a key man.
“At the back, new captain Perry Ng made a clean sweep at the annual player of the year awards last season and is tipped to go onto bigger and better things.”
3. What system are Crewe likely to play?
PM: “The Alex will almost certainly play a 4-3-3 system which has served them well, with the experienced Chris Porter leading the line.”
4. How are the Crewe fans feeling ahead of the trip to the Riverside?
PM: “The Alex had an awful away record last season, but the win at Oldham sat the weekend will have given them confidence on the road. Of course, they know their side are big underdogs but they'll be hopeful of an upset.”
5. How seriously will manager David Artell take the Carabao Cup?
PM: “It's not a priority but a run in the cup could represent a welcome boost to club coffers, so he is expected to field his strongest team.”
6. Finally, how do you think the game will go and what's your score prediction?
PM: “The Alex have to make a better start than they have in their first two games to stand any chance at all. If they manage that, they could pull one or two surprises for Boro.
“But it will likely depend on the type of side Jonathan Woodgate fields. If he makes changes it could be tight - maybe penalties!”