Spireites veteran on his happy homecoming, training intensity shock and not knowing what to call Jack Lester

Drew Talbot might be a self described '˜quiet' man in a dressing room he calls '˜young and bubbly' but he feels right at home.

Thursday, 8th March 2018, 5:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th March 2018, 7:15 pm
Chesterfield v Port Vale. Whitaker, Talbot and Lester celebrate Jack's goal.
Chesterfield v Port Vale. Whitaker, Talbot and Lester celebrate Jack's goal.

In January, nine years after first joining Chesterfield on loan as a 22-year-old striker, Talbot returned as a versatile 31-year-old defender.

By leaving Portsmouth through mutual consent and signing a contract with Town until the end of the season, Talbot ended an unhappy 18-month absence from the Proact.

A week on from his Man of the Match display in a vital 2-1 win over Swindon, Talbot explained why he’s so happy to call himself a Spireite once again and revealed that, given his own way, he wouldn’t leave again.

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“At Pompey there was no hidden agenda, it just didn’t work out,” he said.

“I think a lot of that could possibly be a bit of homesickness.

“I’d been here for so long, I moved away and thought I’d be alright.

“But I’d sometimes go four or five weeks without seeing my wife and children which was really tough.

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“Being back here, coming back to surroundings I’m comfortable with, I wouldn’t say it brings the best out of me but I’ve had a couple of good games since I’ve come back.

“I do feel full of energy.

“Nothing has been mentioned about next season because there’s no time to, but I’d snap my arm off to stay here as long as I could.”

The man who ended Talbot’s Proact exile was former team-mate Jack Lester, with whom he had won a League Two title and the Football League Trophy in Chesterfield blue.

This time, however, Talbot wouldn’t be coming to work with Lester, but for him.

“It was strange,” said the January signing.

“I remember him first ringing me and it sounds ridiculous but I wasn’t sure what to call him.

“Even now sometimes.

“I played with him for four years, it’s quite difficult that transition.

“But he’s my boss, that’s just the way it is now.

“We have a good relationship, we speak on the phone now and again out of football.

“It’s purely professional, we both want what’s best for this football club, which is a good thing.”

Lester’s fondness for winning was one of the reasons Talbot was so keen to rejoin him.

There was a mutual excitement about the deal, Talbot revisiting the scene of some of his greatest triumphs and Lester signing a player he said would give 100 per cent both in training and matches.

But even for a man reknowned for relishing a training session, the demands of the Lester regime came as a bit of a shock.

“He was always intense as a player anyway, he expected and demanded things,” said Talbot.

“I didn’t expect training to be as intense, I’ve come from Pompey and I’m not saying it was easy but they were hellbent on tactics and games, the gym and fitness side of it was your own thing.

“There were fitness coaches but if you didn’t want to do it you didn’t have to do it.

“Here it’s pushed on you a little bit, which I think is good, footballers have it a little bit easy sometimes and you can just go home and do nothing.

“You can see he wants to do well.

“As soon as I spoke to him on the phone it was a no brainer for me, I loved playing with him.

“I kind of knew he would be demanding, but I think you need a demanding manager in the situation we’re in.”

The extreme turnover in playing staff since Talbot’s June 2016 release made the dressing room a very different place to the one he last sat in.

But along with fellow veterans Ian Evatt and Sam Hird, there was a familiar face among the staff in the form of Tommy Wright.

Talbot knew what to expect from the Scot, based on previous experience.

“I played under Tommy when he was a manager and he was always very demanding.

“I’ve a great relationship with him.

“They’re both extremely demanding, they’ll tell you what they expect.

“They’re both very similiar, both want to win.

“I think they both really want to play football but sometimes you can’t do that.

“If the game at Exeter had been on it wouldn’t have been a footballing game at all, I’m not sure that suits us but we’re going to have to roll up our sleeves and get involved in that.”

Both Lester and Wright, obviously, have plenty to say to their troops but according to Talbot the message can’t always come from the management.

And although he’s not the most vocal of players, with 349 Football League appearances he is one of the most experienced and he’ll say what he believes is worth saying.

“It’s quite a young, bubbly bunch here, they keep you on your toes.

“We had a meeting last week and I’m quite quiet, I don’t really say much but I felt the need to say we’re in this situation because of the way we’ve been playing so you need to man up and do your own job.

“If you do your own job we’re going to get out of it.

“I think sometimes it takes it coming from a player rather than the staff.

“They’re an honest bunch, I’ve been in groups where lads can hide a little bit.

“The lads don’t shirk a bit of a go in the meeting and I think that’s good, I think it clears the air a little bit.”

Those clear the air meetings have taken on extra importance as the club’s relegation fight starts to drag on into the latter stages of the season.

Chesterfield find themselves in the drop zone, five points from safety with 12 huge games remaining.

Talbot admits it could go right to the wire, but for all the stress the dog fight brings, it could yet hold a reward for him and his team-mates.

“It’s close, it’s quite nervy,” he admitted.

“God forbid it doesn’t go to the Barnet game, the last game of the season, I’m not sure I’d enjoy that, but it could go that far.

“If we can get everyone back fit, get 11 playing two or three games together, it will click.

“Playing with a bit of pressure means something.

“I’ve been promoted with this club but you’ll be remembered for keeping this club in the league.

“It’s quite serious.

“It’s up to us, no one else can do it for us now.

“I wouldn’t have come if I didn’t feel confident, I could have stayed at Pompey.”