Callum Ainley returned to first-team action in the 2-0 win over Doncaster Rovers in the Papa John’s Trophy last week and the versatile youngster operated in another new position for him.
The Academy graduate has played everywhere in midfield and in the forward line for Crewe, but he once again showed his footballing ability by successfully playing the right wing-back role in the first half against Doncaster.
David Artell had always planned to give the 24-year-old 45 minutes as he returns from a hamstring injury sustained back in September away at Rotherham United.
The Crewe Alexandra manager told the club’s official website: “It was good to have Callum and Travis (Johnson) back on Wednesday night. It was planned for them to have 45 minutes each and they were both good in the role. They played it slightly differently but were both effective.
“Anyone who saw Callum in that first half could see that we got a really positive performance from him. He is a very versatile player and that is because he has a good football brain and he can adapt quickly. He was more than capable of playing that wing-back role.
“He plays it more as a winger with limited defensive duties but having played midfield, he is aware of what is going on behind him and is capable of going the other way.
“Recently we have played Scott (Kashket) there and he is a centre-forward and there is no getting away from that. Callum is not a centre forward and is a more natural fit for the wider role. He is more aware if you like because of the experience he has had playing different positions.
Artell added: “He knows he has to be effective for the team and that means being an assist maker or goalscorer. We know what Cal is capable of because he is a good player.”