What will become of injured, out-of-contract Chesterfield pair Drew Talbot and Sam Muggleton?
Football is a business and it can be a cruel, ruthless one – but there can still be room for sentiment.
Relegation from the National League is now a practical impossibility for Chesterfield and attention is inevitably turning to next season.There’s an excitement, already, and expectation is rising thanks to John Sheridan’s ‘duck to water’ transition into management at this level.Eight wins out of 14 games is an almost miraculous run of form and the 11-point gap between Town and the drop zone is a just reward.The boss has admitted he is, in the back of his mind, thinking about next year.Who should stay, who should go, who has potential but may need a loan spell or two, who does he need to bring in – these are all questions he will have been mulling over, perhaps even debating with assistant Glynn Snodin.There are some big decisions ahead, due in part to the sheer number of players whose contracts will end in the summer.Your employment status being up in the air can’t be a comfortable situation at the best of times, when you’re young, fit, healthy and in all likelihood capable of getting a new deal somewhere else.Spare a thought then for two men who have tried their damndest while wearing the crooked spire this season, only to be cut down by rare and desperately unfortunate circumstances.Drew Talbot and Sam Muggleton, inset, signed one year deals last summer but their season didn’t go to plan.For Talbot, a knee injury led to surgery which led to an infection and a seriously dark period of his career.Muggleton, one of the out-of-favour Spireites who actually showed a desire to play some football and went out on loan to Darlington, smashed his left leg in a heavy collision and may not play again.
The two players might be at opposite ends of the scale when it comes to time served as a Spireite or even popularity among the fanbase.But the reaction to the seriousness of Muggleton’s injuries showed that all Town fans wish him nothing but a full recovery.The question is, where will the pair be employed if and when they finally return to the pitch?Talbot has spent nine years as a Chesterfield player.
There’s an argument that his long service, his 300-plus appearances and his pair of League Two championship medals are testimonial worthy.The treatment given by the club to fellow legend Tommy Lee, would be fitting for Talbot, too.And it’s also worth considering that Talbot is hell bent on playing again, so should he regain full fitness, there’s no doubt he can still do a job – particularly at this level.Even if he couldn’t play, however, would it be too sentimental to expect the club to look after him?When it comes to Muggleton, the club have an option for a second season on his contract and may feel they also have a duty of care for the 23-year-old, at least until, in a year’s time, he discovers whether or not it’s all over.There’s precedent for that – an injured and out of contract Rai Simons was allowed to stick around until he had rehabbed.Even if full 12-month contracts aren’t justifiable, and let’s face it there are many more factors than sentimentality to consider, I hope it’s possible for the club to put care before cash.