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Match Previews

Match preview: Crewe v Hartlepool

7 August 2012

Alex pair to be assessed

Luke Murphy and AJ Leitch-Smith are in a race to prove their fitness ahead of Crewe's clash with Hartlepool in the Capital One Cup. 

Both made successful returns from injury in a recent pre-season friendly against Barnsley but after missing a number of training sessions manager Steve Davis will assess the pair before deciding on his starting line-up. 

Leitch-Smith played the opening 45 minutes on Tuesday evening, returning from a fractured toe, before being replaced by Murphy, who is making a comeback following a knee injury. 

Davis told the club's official website: "Luke and AJ are a bit behind because they have missed a bit of training and that is why they played 45 minutes on Tuesday night. 

"We will assess how they do and how they feel before I decide on the team for Saturday. 

"I do have an idea of the starting line-up but there is still room for me to change." 

Skipper Sam Collins will return to the Hartlepool squad. 

The 35-year-old defender missed the friendly against Newcastle because of family reasons and is likely to partner Peter Hartley at centre-half. 

Boss Neale Cooper has doubts over Colin Nish and Ritchie Humphreys, who have both missed training in recent weeks, but has no other selection concerns. 

Scottish striker Nish has a knee injury while long-serving defender Humphreys is suffering with a hamstring problem. 

Former Leicester striker Steve Howard could make his second Hartlepool debut after returning to his first club. 

Fellow new-boys Simon Walton and Jonathan Franks will also be pushing for starts at Gresty Road following their respective moves from Plymouth and Middlesbrough. 

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