EFL Player in Focus: Harry Pickering

After Harry Pickering’s impressive strike in Crewe Alexandra’s 4-1 win over Salford, Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) has made him our EFL Player in Focus.

Mixed 2018-19

Before we look at Pickering’s form this season, it is important to assess how he fared when he first broke through.

Crewe’s creative Cestrian was established as a very attack-minded left-back, someone with the technical ability to play further forward on the flank at times.

Unfortunately for him, an injury in the second half of the season meant he was unable to develop as he might have liked, spending five weeks of Autumn then six weeks of Spring on the sidelines, effectively missing the best part of three months of action combined.

Relationship with Kirk

It is tempting to imagine a forward-thinking left-back in terms of the stereotype: an athlete who loves to attack the flank directly with direct runs.

That though would not necessarily describe Pickering, whose game is more about technique than physique.

Crucially, he possesses an innate understanding with the man he shares his flank with, Charlie Kirk.

The wide forward excels at making well-timed runs in from the channel to put the finishing touches to Crewe’s attacking moves, having scored 14 times since the start of last season.

When Kirk makes the runs, Pickering will stay out wide to detract opponents, but when Kirk is not making those runs, the left-back will make inverted forays towards the penalty area – as we saw for the goal against Salford.

Both players are very receptive to not just opportunities for themselves to show their own individual quality, but also the times where they need to be selfless and create space for others.

That team-orientated understanding is key to maintaining the equilibrium of Crewe’s attacking play.

Attacking contributions

Pickering has shown plenty of goalscoring potential this season.

He opened his account for the season on Saturday with a fabulous strike; he took a touch to steady the ball from Kirk’s lay-off, then put his laces through it yet still got accuracy, striking the perfect blend of power and placement.

Pickering has not been averse to having the odd shot this season and is an intriguing 14/1 to bag anytime in Saturday’s game at Cheltenham which, considering how often he pop’s up in what would conventionally be a forward’s position, looks good value.

Of all the left-backs in League Two, the 20-year-old has been perhaps the busiest in terms of linking play with teammates – he can play meaningful, penetrating passes the open opponents up.

There is so much technical talent about Pickering’s performances, it is hard to believe he is only.

The defensive side

Crewe’s current rate of 12 goals conceded in 10 games is not the best in the division, but it is superior to the defensive record that promoted Bury possessed in 2018-19 and that of Play-Off Finalists Newport.

Because Pickering is so good going forward, his defensive contributions can at times go under the radar.

He is one of the most accomplished tacklers in League Two, because he is tough when needed yet has collected just one yellow card and clearly knows how to stay on the right side of the referee.

The academy graduate has made several clearances and blocked numerous shots, showing a willingness to do the dirty side of the game – which Crewe will need if they are to achieve their promotion aspirations.

What next?

One hopes that Pickering will give the Railwaymen at least one full, uninterrupted season before moving on, as is inevitable due to the situation at boardroom level.

In summer 2019, the fact Crewe had not finished in the top seven was arguably in their favour as higher-placed clubs were not sharp enough to realize how good Perry Ng, Ryan Wintle, Tommy Lowery and others really are.

We can expect them to have a strong campaign this year and that means, in summer 2020, they are likely to be raided by Championship clubs – regardless of the division they find themselves in – and Pickering will be a target.

There is though, must more to come from him in a Crewe shirt.

Bet £5 & Get £20 FREE BETS! 😍
Claim Bonus
🔥 BET £20 & GET £40 IN FREE BETS! 🔥
New users only. Min deposit £20. Place qualifying bets of £20 in first 7 days after deposit to unlock free bets. Free bets rewarded as 4 equal free bets that total £40. Min odds 1/1, 3+ legs & expire in 7 days. Winnings credited in cash. Full T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🟠 £40 Welcome Bonus! 🟠
18+/New depositing customers on STSbet.co.uk only/11.02.20 - until further notice/First deposit min. £10/Qualifying accumulator bet with min. stake of £10 and min. 2 selections with min. odds of 1/2 (1.50) per selection/Bonus: 50% of the stake of the qualifying bet/Max bonus £40, credited once the qualifying bet has settled/Bonus wagering requirements: x6 on min. odds of 1/2 (1.50) as a single bet, or 1/2 (1.50) per selection as part of an accumulator bet. Bonus valid for any sports, for 7 days. Deposit method restrictions apply./ Full T&Cs apply/ BeGambleAware.org
Claim Bonus
♦️ Bet £15 & Get £15 FREE BET + 2 x £5.50 tickets to our Poker Tournaments! ♦️
18+ | New UK and Ireland customers only | Min £/€15 deposit get max 2 x £5.50 tickets to FootyAccums Poker League | Bet min £/€15 on sports and get £/€15 free sports bet, minimum odds must be 2.0 | Tickets credited automatically after eligible first deposit | Tickets expire in 30 days | Free bet valid for 7 days, stake not returned | T&C’s apply | BeGambleAware.org
Claim Bonus

🏆 £20 Risk Free First Bet - Money Back in CASH 🏆
New customers only, limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Paddy Power account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your first bet on any Sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £/€20. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🔴 Bet £10, Get £20 in free bets! 🔴
New members. £10 min deposit & bet on sportsbook, placed & settled at 1.5 min odds within 14 days of sign-up. Win part of E/W bets. 2 non-withdrawable £10 Free Bet Tokens: accept in 7 days, valid for 7 days from acceptance (ex. E/Ws & Multiples), stakes not returned. Click here for Rules & Exclusions. Bet Responsibly. BeGambleAware.org. 18+
Claim Bonus
⚡️Get up to £100 in Bet Credits⚡️
New Customers only. Up to £100* in Bet Credits. Sign up, deposit £5* or more to your account and bet365 will match your qualifying deposit in Bet Credits when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply.
Claim Bonus
New customers only. Deposit £20 using Debit Card or Trustly. Up to your first £20 of losses will be refunded as CASH within 24 hours of qualifying bet having been settled. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🏆 £20 Risk Free First Bet - Money Back in CASH 🏆
New customers only, limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Betfair account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your first bet on any Sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £/€20. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
Sign-up via Mobile using promo code N40 and place a bet of £10/€10 or more and we will give you 4x £10/€10 free bets. By entering the Promo code in the box above you agree to the full terms and conditions of this promotion as displayed below. See full terms below. 18+.
Claim Bonus
🌟 Bet £10 & Get £20 in Bonuses 🌟
18+ New Customers only. Deposit, opt in and place a £10 qualifying bet at odds of 2.00 or greater within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive a £10 Free Sports Bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00 or greater, expires in 7 days.  Plus a £10 Game Show Bonus, selected games, wager 40x to withdraw a max of £250. T&Cs Apply. Please Gamble Responsibly.
Claim Bonus
BET £10 & GET A £10 FREE BET! 💪
New UK customers only. £10 Min Deposit. 100% matched free bet on your first deposit of £10. 1 x wagering at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bets. Debit Card deposits only. This offer is valid for 7 days from your new account being registered. Full Terms apply. 18+. BeGambleAware.org. Bet The Responsible Way.
Claim Bonus
When The Fun Stops. Stop.