Chesterfield’s resolve looks set to be tested this summer after bids from two clubs for Sam Clucas were turned down.
Clucas joined Chesterfield from rivals Mansfield Town in September and has gone on to make 49 appearances, scoring 12 goals, in his first season in League One as the Spireites reached the play-offs.
He arrived at the Proact as a left winger but has been used on the same side in defence and in the final third of the pitch alongside Eoin Doyle before the Irishman’s move to Cardiff City in February.
Championship side Cardiff have long been admirers of the 24-year-old, who is contracted to Chesterfield until the summer of 2017, with Reading and Wigan Athletic also among a growing number of suitors.
But the Spireites have deemed both offers - one of which from Wigan - for Clucas as unacceptable and new manager Saunders is expected to have a fight on his hands to keep last season’s squad together.
Out of contract trio Jimmy Ryan, Drew Talbot and Armand Gnanduillet have all been offered new deals to stay at Chesterfield while young prospects Charlie Dawes and Jack Broadhead have left the club.
Experienced players Ian Evatt and Ritchie Humphreys both triggered extensions for another year during last season as did teenage midfielder Michael Onovwigun, who signed last summer after his release from Brentford.
Ryan and influential midfielder Gary Roberts are on former Spireites manager Paul Cook’s wanted list at Portsmouth, while speculation surrounds the futures of other key men in the Chesterfield ranks.
Saunders, meanwhile, has targets of his own in mind and has identified two strikers for his squad - though ex-Chesterfield striker Craig Davies is not believed to be one of those in his thoughts at present.
Davies, 29, was released by Bolton Wanderers at the end of the season, setting forums and message boards alight with the prospect of a return to the club where he scored 23 goals in 2010/11 campaign.
He has since gone on to play in the Championship for the past four seasons - at Barnsley and Bolton - and is expected to have offers from football’s second tier, as Saunders looks elsewhere.