Column: Two players who may benefit most from John Sheridan’s Chesterfield rejuvenation haven’t played a single minute yet
Two of the players who may benefit most from Chesterfield’s remarkable return to form haven’t played any part in it.
Charlie Carter and Laurence Maguire could have been walking into a nightmare.
They might even have had to rush their rehabilitation, to be parachuted into a squad failing to get results.
Had the Spireites still been losing games and desperate for an injection of creativity, the pressure on Carter’s young shoulders would have been immense, given the scale of the disaster a third relegation would be.
While Chesterfield haven’t yet escaped the woods, they’re seven unbeaten in the league, they’ve got 10 points from 12 under John Sheridan and a few more weeks of this form will see them emerge, blinking into the sunlight.
In the bleak times, during November and December, there was more and more talk of Carter, when he might return, how important he could be.
Since John Sheridan has brought winning ways back to the Proact, Carter’s return has been spoken of more in terms of a bonus, than a season saver.
When chance creation is almost non-existant, it’s only natural to look at who isn’t yet fit and how they might help.
But even on Saturday, when Fylde dominated parts of the game, Chesterfield still created a few chances of their own.
The addition of Scott Boden has given the Spireites a more potent look, up front.
The 3-5-2 formation has added width and meant that Chesterfield, through Ellis Chapman and Lee Shaw, are finally getting balls into the box.
And although they aren’t scoring many, a new-found ability to keep clean sheets means one goal has been enough.
That, too, has taken pressure off the attackers in the squad, Carter included.
There is a renewed confidence around the Proact and the mean defensive record under Sheridan is slowly reducing the panic that has traditionally set in late in games over recent seasons.
That’s a much healthier environment for a player like Maguire, still learning his trade, still so young and inexperienced, to walk into – should he force his way in.
The Spireites look organised and solid.
Robbie Weir is finding form just in front of the defence, with Curtis Weston and Jonathan Smith providing the legs and energy.
Should Sheirdan opt to throw Maguire in, he’ll join a team who know what they’re doing, a defensive unit who understand their roles.
We’ve seen the toll it can take on youngsters, when they have to play in a team bereft of confidence, a team that finds a way to lose games.
Even Jacob Brown, now lighting up the top end of League One with goals and assists for Barnsley, struggled to shine in a struggling Spireite side.
You can talk about learning from adversity until you’re blue in the face, but Carter and Maguire stand a good chance of flourishing in a successful team.
Sheridan can introduce them slowly, allow them to acclimatise, find their feet.
They might even enjoy their football, an unfamiliar phenomenon beginning, at long last, to dawn on those in blue on the pitch and those in blue in the stands.