COLUMN: FA's Proact decision backfires, Wilson will sort set-pieces, Jones' absence is bitter blow

If the FA's decision to move an England Under 21 game away from the Proact was to avoid being linked with Ched Evans, it's backfired.

Tuesday, 6th September 2016, 5:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th September 2016, 2:48 pm

National newspapers carried headlines this week that did just that, as the reason for the switching of the international game to Colchester was apparently laid bare in the media.

Someone at the Football Association has reportedly decided that playing the U21 European Championship qualifier at the Proact would attract criticism.

Criticism from whom?

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Admittedly there was an initial furore when the Welshman was signed by the Spireites and he was always going to attract nationwide headlines.

Town’s fanbase was divided on the issue, but there’s no evidence to suggest the dip in Proact attendances are solely down to the 27-year-old’s presence in Danny Wilson’s squad.

Therefore, it takes a gigantic leap of imagination to conclude that the attendance for an England Under 21 game would be impacted in the slightest because it is being played at the same ground that Evans currently calls home.

The fact is that in terms of this international fixture, Evans is a complete irrelevance.

He would have nothing to do with proceedings and given the low profile he has been keeping, presumably under advice, would also be highly unlikely to attend.

Chesterfield have proved capable of keeping the spotlight off the striker when he’s not on the pitch, so why would this occasion be any different?

Criticism of the Spireites for employing Evans has been muted because anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that to comment would be dangerous, given the player’s upcoming retrial.

Isn’t it odd then that the footballing authorities would fear or expect to come under fire for holding a fixture in Chesterfield?

All they have done is penalise the club, drag them into national headlines, presumably hit them in the pocket and implied that the game’s rulers want nothing to do with them.

And now that the reason behind their decision has been leaked or uncovered, here we are debating the FA, Chesterfield FC and Ched Evans.

The’ve got the kind of media coverage they hoped to avoid.

It’s yet another reason to feel for Spireites supporters, many of whom would have relished the chance to see England’s future stars up close and personal.

Meanwhile concern is growing in the ranks of Chesterfield fans over their team’s inability to defend set-pieces.

Poor marking has cost them dearly already this season, with AFC Wimbledon and Shrewsbury benefitting recently and taking all three points against Danny Wilson’s men.

With such seasoned campaigners like Ian Evatt and Sam Hird in the back four, it’s strange to see set-pieces causing so much chaos.

But of course they can’t defend them on their own and nor can they guarantee that their team-mates will do their jobs and win the battle with the man they’re marking.

It strikes me, however, that this will not be a strange new phenomenon for Wilson.

You don’t get to manage over 1,000 games in the professional game without coming up against an issue like this.

On transfer deadline day he brought in two men who are no strangers to headline the ball, in 6ft 3ins centre-half Tom Anderson and 6ft 2ins striker Conor Wilkinson – the latter a threat ‘in both boxes’ according to Wilson.

And alongside him in the dugout is Chris Morgan, a defenderwith over 400 Football League games on his CV.

Their combined experience and nouse will be sufficient to arrest the set-piece problem or deal with any mental fragility that creeps in when the opposition dot the ball down by the corner flag.

The last three results have been disappointing and a continuation of current form would be alarming, but the team Wilson has scraped together on a shoestring is still capable of competing in League One.

They’ve made enough chances to win each of those games, but denied themselves through wasteful finishing or weak defending.

If they were being dominated from start to finish and losing by lopsided scorelines, there’d be genuine reason to panic.

That’s just not the case however and at this early stage there’s nothing to suggest that Wilson won’t repeat last season’s feat of keeping the Spireites in this division.

Life would be a lot easier for the Chesterfield boss if he could get Dan Jones back on the field.

But the noises coming from Wilson in his press conferences have not been overly optimistic of late.

It would be a bitter blow for both the player and the club if this foot and ankle issue was to derail another season for the left-back.

Chesterfield’s is a small squad and carrying long term injury victims is a difficult task in a fiercely competitive and physical division like League One.

They’re due a bit of good luck and they’ll need plenty of it on the injury front this season.

The Proact backroom staff have a big job on their hands to try and keep all hands to the pumps, fit and healthy.