George Ray is close to a return to first-team action after being named on the bench for the visit of Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday. The centre-half has not featured at first-team level since fracturing his lower back last Easter, but the former Wales Under-21 International is nearing a return to full fitness.
Artell selected Ray on the bench last weekend after he successfully came through a fitness test and he said he would have used him in the closing stages for his extra height if he had not been forced to make three changes. After losing Chris Porter through injury in the first-half, the Crewe boss lost one substitution and his other two were made for tactical reasons.
Artell told crewealex.net: “George is close to a return. I put him on the bench because we knew what Wycombe would do. They like to load the box and play those diagonal crosses and we thought that George had 15 minutes in him, if he needed him.
“It was taken out of my hands a little. We had to replace Chris (Porter) in the first-half and I put Harry (McKirdy) on because we were chasing a goal. Charlie Kirk had worked his socks off, so he needed a breather and that gave us the opportunity to have a look at Daniel (Barlaser).
“We couldn’t use George but I would have done. He had 10, 15 minutes in him to come on and head some balls. He was named on the bench because it was Wycombe. If it had been another club then I might not have done and given him another week.
“George will work hard this week, get another week of work under his belt and if we can re-arrange the Under-23 game against Nottingham Forest, we are hoping he will be able to get some game time.”