MAX Clayton looks to have turned his back on Crewe Alexandra.
The 19-year-old failed to show as the squad assembled for pre-season training this week – indicating a bitter end to his long association with the club.
A self-confessed Alex supporter, Clayton’s decision will not come as a huge surprise after sitting on the offer of a new contract over the past 18 months.
Crewe recently improved the terms of a three-year deal on the table but it appears the player, once linked with Liverpool and Arsenal, has always seen this as an opportunity to fly.
Clayton is believed to be already training with another club as the rumour mill suggests Blackburn Rovers and Swansea City as possible destinations.
“I’ve had a brief conversation with the chairman and I believe he is trying his luck elsewhere,” explained boss Steve Davis. “That is his prerogative.
“All I know is he wasn’t in training and we’ve had no contact from his agent. That suggests he is looking to move on so we have to plan for Crewe Alexandra.
“Maybe he is just getting out to see what’s out there for him. The problem he might have is that if nothing happens for him and we get someone in, he goes down the pecking order.
“I have to plan now for who will be here for the season. We have goals in the squad but we do need more options with AJ (Leitch-Smith), Byron (Moore) and Max not here.”
Crewe would be due compensation if the clubs cannot agree a fee, however it is unlikely to meet their valuation.
Manchester City striker Jordi Hiwula could be a replacement for Clayton on a long-term loan deal.
The 19-year-old scored 12 goals in 21 games for the under 21s last season and is on the list of Alex targets.
Former Rotherham keeper Scott Shearer has been lined up to replace Steve Phillips as player-coach while former midfielder James Bailey remains on the radar.
“I’ve been offered some players on loans and I’ll make a decision depending on what we can do,” added Davis.
“We’ll invite some trialists in as well. There is a lad from Everton in who is a winger and we’ll take a look at him.”