SPIREITES: Future’s bright for Chesterfield’s young guns

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New academy manager Mark Smith believes the reserve team will help develop Chesterfield’s young prospects.

Smith, who took on the role following Gerry Carr’s exit last week, has worked with the Spireites’ youth team for the past 18 months and states “progress is being made”.

Chesterfield youth team coach Mark Smith at the training ground.

Chesterfield youth team coach Mark Smith at the training ground.

He guided the under-18s side to victory over Aston Villa in the FA Youth Cup and an unbeaten run in the league that took them to within a whisker of clinching the title.

And he reckons the introduction of a reserve team next season will assist the likes of Laurence Maguire and Jake Beesley, who signed pro forms after excelling for the U18s.

“The games will help a lot,” said Smith. “They have not had anything to get their teeth in to. Coaches can start preparing them for games and mirror what the first team are doing. We want them working towards Saturdays; shapes, analysis, tactics, nutrition - everything.

“It’s important there is dialogue between the academy and the first team. You can speak to them and give them ideas about where certain players could be used and how they need to play to help their development. We can then use it as motivation for them.”

Smith has worked at Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley and Rotherham United academies where he has coached Kyle Walker, Matt Lowton and Nicky Law, among others.

And he speaks highly of those on Chesterfield’s books.

“They all wanted to learn and that’s important, they have got to be coach-able,” he said. “You need kids who buy in to what you are trying to teach them. Sometimes you have to ask them to do stuff they don’t want to do, but it’s important that they do.

“Laurence and Jake were a pleasure to work with, as were all the first and second years. They were all different class and would do things without question. Standards are getting better and better. Laurence and Jake did really well and have been rewarded with deals.

“Laurence was one of the first names on the team sheet and Jake’s desire was second to none. I’ve worked with some good players who have gone on to become professionals and internationals in the case of Kyle Walker and sometimes they need that extra 18 months.

“In the old way of gone at 18, Matt Lowton would have been released. But because there was a development group he kept working, the sessions were more individual-orientated and they got there. That’s when you miss out on players, the reserve team will help with that.

“I think we got the wheels in motion last season. We had the joys of the FA Youth Cup win over Aston Villa and did well in the league for a while. We have got things going and now we want to carry on that momentum.”

Spireites chief executive Chris Turner said the lack of a reserve team last season was a “disappointment” but is keen for the club’s emerging talents to get minutes on the pitch.

He added: “Players who have found themselves in and out the team and need more minutes have not had an alternative to the first team or going out on loan. I would like reserve team football to be more competitive. We’ll be playing in the North East area.

“I would like to see players against teams who want to be in it in a 12 or 15 team league, rather than drive over to Blackpool for a fixture. It’s a great ground for young players to get minutes and learn the game.”

n Former Spireites captain Sean Dyche will bring his Burnley side to the Proact Stadium for a pre-season friendly on Saturday, July 25 (3pm).

While Chesterfield’s Capital One Cup first round tie with Carlisle United at Brunton Park will be played on Tuesday, August 11 (7.45pm).