Crewe have become renowned for developing their own Academy players and enabling them to flourish before selling several of them on in recent years.
They finished 12th last season but the departures of Harry Pickering, Ryan Wintle and Owen Dale have had an impact on David Artell’s men with them currently bottom of the table as the season heads into its latter stages.
A lack of goals this season has been one of the biggest issues for the Railwaymen, with just four players scoring three or more goals in all competitions. Chris Long is their top scorer with eight, with Mickael Mandron and Chris Porter chipping in with six each.
A highly-rated prospect that has caught the eye of manager David Artell of late, right-back Johnson was born in Stoke-on-Trent. He came through the Crewe Academy before signing his first professional contract with the Railwaymen during the summer of 2018. He would go on to make his senior debut for the club as a substitute against Swindon Town in 2020. Earlier this season in November, the 21-year old suffered an ankle injury that kept him out of the line-up for a number of weeks. Despite the injury, Johnson has played 21 games this season for Crewe, and he has made 14 starts along the way.
A former Crewe captain in his first spell with the club, Murphy signed a two-year deal to return to the club in September 2020, following his release from Bolton Wanderers.
After beginning his career with Crewe, he spent five years at the club, scoring 25 goals in 186 appearances. In 2012, he was an important part of the team that earned promotion from Sky Bet League Two. He would go onto spend the next five years at Leeds United, playing more than 100 times at Elland Road. He then had two years at Bolton before returning to Crewe. He has the armband back and has featured in 39 appearances so far this season.
Long is a product of the Everton Academy, having spent time in Merseyside from 2000 until 2013. During his time at Goodison Park, Long spent time on loan with MK Dons and Brentford, before joining Burnley on a permanent deal in 2015.
He once again spent time on loan after arriving at Turf Moor, with a temporary switch to Fleetwood turned into a permanent one in 2018. He has since had a spell with Blackpool, before a move north of the border to join Scottish Premier League side Motherwell.
In total, he scored 11 league goals in 54 appearances before moving back south to sign for Crewe last summer. He scored his first goal for the club against MK Dons in October, and remains their top scorer so far this season.
Frenchman Mandron joined Crewe in the summer of 2020 after his contract at Gillingham expired, quickly establishing himself as one of the club’s best strikers. He led the team with 14 goals across all competitions in his first season with the Railwaymen.
Beginning his career at Sunderland, he would go on to play for the Black Cats in first team action between 2013-16, before enjoying loan spells with Fleetwood Town, Shrewsbury Town and Hartlepool United.
In 2017, Mandron made a permanent move to Colchester United, going on to score 12 goals in 85 appearances across two seasons with the club.
A spell with Gillingham came before Crewe were his next stop, and he has found a home with the club with an impressive goalscoring record.