CREWE Alexandra boss Dave Artell has heaped praise on Chris Dagnall for his role in the side’s return to form.

The experienced striker scored twice in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Colchester United that moved his side well clear of the League Two relegation zone.

In fact, the 13-point gap between The Alex and the drop zone equals the distance they are away from Exeter City in the final play-off spot.

After his match-winning display at Gresty Road, Dagnall was praised as “inspirational” by Artell.

“Daggers works his socks off and it inspires his team-mates around him,” he told

“I spoke to him when I took over and asked him where he scored his goals and he told me in the box, so I just said get in the box then.

“That is what he has done and he has shown what a great finishers of chances he is.

“I said to him, you get in the box and if we don’t get the ball to him then that’s my problem.

“He has been absolutely terrific for us and I’m sure that if we keep on getting balls into the box then he will continue to score goals.”

Saturday’s victory was The Alex’s third in their last four games as they look to finish the season on a positive note.

They face a tough trip to play-off chasers Carlisle United on Saturday, kick off 3pm, after which there will be only seven games of the season remaining.

Many members of the Crewe squad are out of contract in the summer and Artell says talks have begun with the likes of goalkeeper Ben Garratt and defender Jon Guthrie.

However, the manager says he wants to secure their League Two status before focusing on player retention.

“We are working through the list of all the players here who are out of contract. Talks are on-going with some of them and there will be more of them,” he said.

“We are not safe yet, so we have to wait.

“Who would want to sign for a Conference club when they think they are better than that and should be playing in the league?

“I know I wouldn’t sign for a Conference club, so let’s get safe first and take things from there.”

Meanwhile, Artell has also praised midfielder James Jones after he was called up to the Scotland under 21 squad for their game against Estonia on Tuesday, March 28.

“Jonah has been one of our most consistent players this season and he has bright future in the game,” he said of Jones, who has nine goals to his name for The Alex this season.

“He wants to learn and get better and he deserves his latest call-up for Scotland.

“He has added goals to his game and shows great courage in possession for someone so young.”