COLUMN: Wembley here we come? Spireites writer predictions play-off promotion party
Don't be too surprised if the Chesterfield FC class of 2017/18 are celebrating next May.
There’s enough talent and experience in Gary Calwell’s squad to stake a credible claim to one of four promotion spots in League Two.
He’s got players who know what it takes to get out of this league and he has leadership, in the likes of Ian Evatt, Sam Hird, Scott Wiseman, Tommy Lee and Chris O’Grady.
There are goals in the team – Kristian Dennis should hit double figures again and then some, O’Grady will provide assists and chip in on the scoresheet and although raw, Gozie Ugwu and Delial Brewster are quick, awkward customers to deal with.
At the back there’s a very capable goalkeeping tandem and a genuine ding-dong battle for a starting place.
Caldwell has options in defence – he can play a three or a flat back four.
In the middle, Louis Reed looks a real player with something to prove and Jordan Sinnott, against Doncaster, displaying the passing range that has earned him a step up to the Football League.
If Caldwell can get Robbie Weir’s signature on a contract this week, he’ll add more strength and yet another leader to his side.
Weir won back-to-back promotions with Burton and although he suffered a bad injury last term, he’s only 28 with miles left on the clock.
Against Rovers he looked exactly like what Town have been missing and if fit, may prove a linchpin.
There’s pace in Brad Barry and power in Jerome Binnom-Williams (once fit).
There’s competition for places all over the park, there’s young, exciting, emerging talent and Town can pass the ball or go direct.
Once the ball goes up to O’Grady, it will rarely come straight back – expect his hold up play to be key.
Does all of the above mean the Spireites will win the league, finish in the top three or win the play-offs? No.
They’ll need luck, they’ll need to avoid injury trouble and suspensions and they’ll need to be properly managed and coached.
League Two was incredibly competitive last season, there’s no reason to believe this campaign will differ.
But with his summer business, Caldwell has given Town a chance.
He has his own team, his own backroom staff and an opportunity to prove his League One title with Wigan was not a well financed flash-in-the-pan success.
It’s clear that more money has been spent elsewhere in League Two, there are bookies favourites for a reason.
If the Mansfield Towns of this world are not in the top three or even the top two then there will be surprise all over the country and heads will probably roll down the road.
Chesterfield aren’t anyone’s favourites for the title and judging from the League Two writers predictions, they’re still flying under the radar.
Caldwell has been deliberate in his public output, making no brash statements and quietly going about his business – you won’t hear him promising a title or automatic promotion.
But inside the camp there’s a determination and a confidence. They know what they want and they think they know how to get it.
With all of that said, having watched the vast majority of the pre-season action and spent time ‘behind the scenes’ in Spain and Portugal, here’s my prediction – a top five finish and play-off glory.
See you at Wembley.