CREWE hope to wrap up the signature of Hibs striker Clayton Donaldson before Saturday’s big kick-off.

Despite the arrival of Calvin Zola and Anthony Elding, the 24-year-old has been earmarked as the man to try and replace Nicky Maynard.

After arriving at Championship outfit Bristol City for £2.25m, the former Alex talisman made a spectacular debut with a hat-trick on Friday night.

They’ll certainly be big boots to fill in South Cheshire but Donaldson could bring additional pace to a beefed-up attack.

Having been linked with a loan move here back in Feburary, the 6ft forward made his name with 24 goals for York in the Conference during 2006/07.

Donaldson netted six times despite limited opportunities in the SPL last season and ended up on the list after falling out with boss Mixu Paatelainen.

“We have had a bid accepted for a striker,” admitted Alex first-team coach Steve Holland.

“We’ve had a player in mind all summer.

“It’s difficult to plan, we always had it in mind that we might lose Nicky but it was a question of when.

“We’ll speak to the player and if we did sign him in time, Saturday might be a possibility.”

While former Academy striker Eddie Johnson leaves after an unsuccessful trial, Holland still hopes to bring in a centre-half.

Options have been eased by the Maynard windfall.

“We’ve been saying all summer that we were trying to bring in a central defender,” added Holland.

“We had a couple of trialists and I was watching potential targets on Monday.

“We had been looking at a loan or a free but now we might be able to do something.

“We’ve let Eddie go.

“It was a difficult one, I’ve gained a lot of respect for him and what he did wasn’t easy for him.”

Ready to launch his second season in charge at home to Brighton, Holland has avoided big predictions.

Progress is his target.

“We’ve had three or four seasons of getting lower and lower and we’ve got to try and stop that rot,” he said.

“It’s no good me saying we’ll go for promotion after just avoiding relegation.

“We need a season of progress.

“If we can get into the middle group and then go on a good run, who knows.

“There’s no substitute for being in the hot seat.

“I feel I should be a better manager than I was 12 months ago.

“The key is the quality of your players.

“Recruitment is so hard and we’ve worked really hard this summer.

“I believe we’ve got better players as a squad than last year and time will tell.

“I’m quietly confident we’ll surprise one or two.”

Despite the arrivals of Elding and possibly Donaldson, Shaun Miller is set to partner Calvin Zola against the Seagulls at the Alexandra Stadium.

With Gary Roberts told he has no future at the club, James Bailey will start in the middle following his impressive pre-season performances.

Crewe are at home to Championship side Barnsley in the Carling Cup on Tuesday.

For full coverage, read next weeks Guardian.