‘It’s slowly, but nicely, coming together at the Proact’

High earner Chris O'Grady left Chesterfield this week
High earner Chris O'Grady left Chesterfield this week
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Although incoming transfers have been slow going, the last few weeks have seen more pleasing progression on the transfer front, with unwanted players being steadily moved off the wage bill and exciting new faces – both young and old – arriving at the Proact.

It’s not all happening within the blink of an eye, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

One of Martin Allen’s most important tasks this summer, besides the actual putting together of his Chesterfield squad, has been to move players deemed unneeded off the Spireites wage bill, in order to make wiggle room for incoming players.

Thursday saw forward Louis Dodds move on a season-long loan to Port Vale, a club he knows well having made 327 appearances and scored 56 goals for Vale during an eight-year stay at the club.

Despite fans getting excited by the move for Louis Dodds when he first arrived at the Proact, he made minimal impact with one assist to account for in just under 12 hours of football for the Spireites. It seemed clear that a move away was the correct decision, but it baffled many to see that he didn’t make a permanent move to Vale.

The following day, Marshall Willock and Delial Brewster were shifted out via a mutual agreement to terminate their contracts.

Willock and Brewster are two youngsters who were never able to force their way into the Spireites first team under either Gary Caldwell or Jack Lester, and thus it comes with little surprise that this is the last we will see of them for the foreseeable future.

But the most important departure so far – confirmed on Monday evening – was that of former Brighton and Burton striker Chris O’Grady, the club’s record earner who too agreed mutually to terminate his contract.

O’Grady’s single season at the Proact came with mixed reviews from supporters. The large majority of fans were pleased to see the back of a striker who scored just three goals in 41 appearances in all competitions.

But others saw O’Grady in a different light, highlighting his ability to make an impact late on with his strength and hold-up play.

What can be agreed on, though, is that regardless of opinion on his quality, his large salary – especially for a National League side – would be simply unsustainable in the non-league.

Even if we had a 15 or 20-goal-per-season striker on our hands, a rumoured several thousand pounds a week is beyond affordable for a club which has just dropped out of the Football League.

The mutual agreement to terminate the contract comes with a sigh of relief; it would have been a sticky situation in trying to balance such a heavy single wage bill with the rest of the squad.

The departure of O’Grady also signals a very healthy opening for future incoming players.

The latest arrival at the club was that of young midfielder Charlie Carter, an exciting young talent brought in free of charge from relegated Woking.

The 21-year-old made 41 league appearances in the National League last season, and found the net on an impressive 12 occasions, showing that he clearly has a lot to offer to Martin Allen and Chesterfield next season.

Having signed plenty of experienced and aging players, it’s refreshing to see that Martin Allen still values the qualities of young talent. With youngsters such as Delial Brewster and Riccardo German exiting the scene and veterans like 38-year-old Michael Nelson taking their place, Carter’s arrival has brought back some youth to the Chesterfield squad.

Carter’s presence in the team will also provide a healthy challenge for exciting prospect Joe Rowley, whose sudden rise into first team contention was one of few highlights from a miserable season.

Although Rowley can expect more involvement next season, Carter’s arrival means that he still has to compete for first-team football, and such a challenge will prove beneficial for the 19-year-old.

Although new signings aren’t racing through the door as we had previously expected, Martin Allen and his team are slowly but surely putting together a squad which we can be optimistic about.

At the same time, Allen is steadily freeing up his wage budget and making space for more (hopefully) promising signings.

So, to put it briefly, it’s all slowly but surely coming together nicely ahead of August.