Crewe Alexandra have been dealt a heavy blow just a week before the season commences as star striker Chris Long will be out for the first few weeks of the campaign.
Long signed for the Railwaymen back in 2021 and earned the Player of the Season award in his debut campaign despite David Artell’s side being relegated back down into League Two.
Unfortunately, Long spent the majority of the 2022/23 campaign on the sideline and even endured surgery on his ankle, causing the striker to make merely ten appearances, although he still managed to bag three goals in the meantime.
Nevertheless, the 28-year-old had returned to action and was involved in Crewe’s recent pre-season games. That was until the weekend when Long was substituted early into the match against Lincoln City.
Fans and manager Lee Bell worried that Long was still suffering from the recurring ankle problem which kept him out for significant periods of last season.
What has Bell said?
Nevertheless, in a recent press conference, Bell has revealed that Long’s newfound injury is not a reoccurrence of his ankle issues.
Speaking to club media, the head coach said:
“The concern that everybody had – Chris, us, and the fans – was that it would be the same ankle problem that kept him out so long last season; we’re all going to be worried aren’t we?
“But the scan has shown that it’s nothing to do with the old injury, and the schedule we are looking at with him is two-to-four weeks.
Continuing his update, the 40-year-old manager stated that Long would not be rushed back to ensure that he is given enough time to fully recover:
“We won’t rush him back, we will do it right and look after him. He’s so important to us, the opposition worry about him and he’s a goal threat. He demands a lot from those around him and he has a lot of quality.”
While Long will miss the start of the League Two season, as Crewe face Mansfield at home on the opening day, his injury is not as bad as was feared and the player is expected to return to action quite soon.
The bad news, of course, is that Long will miss the start of the season, with games set to come thick and fast, including an EFL Cup first-round clash against Championship side Sunderland.
However, it’s certainly good to hear that the former Everton academy graduate isn’t suffering from his recurring ankle problem and will return to the team soon enough.
If Long can reignite his fire from two seasons ago, he may well rip it up in League Two.