Chesterfield: Spireites pairing set for late fitness tests ahead of Cov trip

Sam Hird

Sam Hird

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Dean Saunders will assess how Sam Hird and Liam O’Neil train today before firming up his side to play at Coventry City tomorrow.

Hird (ribs) and O’Neil (knee) are both scheduled to take part in full training today and the Spireites boss says he will see how they perform: “I’ve know what team I want to play but we’ll see how training goes before we firm it up.”

Saunders says that Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (hamstring) and new signing Chris Herd – who has not played since February – are both available for selection, with long term injury victim Angel Martinez and one match ban victim Drew Talbot the only two players out of contention.

“It’s going to be a tricky bench to select,” he added, “We’ve a lot of players available now so I’ll have to start thinking about sending one or two out on loan to get some games.”

City, managed by Tony Mowbray, have a couple of players Spireites’ manager knows well. He said: “Marc-Antoine Fortune was with me at Doncaster and Sam Ricketts played for Wales. They’ve got plenty of other good players like Marcus Tudgay and John Fleck and they’ve started well so it will be a tough game.”

Hird and Herd are expected to come into the back four for Talbot and Charlie Raglan, whilst O’Neil and Ebanks-Blake could displace Ollie Banks and Gboly Ariyibi giving Spireites line-up a very experienced look for what is set to be a really tough ask.

Should that be the starting line-up, Saunders’ decision will be whether to play 4-4-2 with Lee Novak and Ebanks-Blake up top or whether Novak will play in an attacking midfield slot in a 4-2-3-1, or similar shape, though the manager regularly says: “Formations are only really relevant when you’re not in possession.”

Having scored at least two goals in their last three games, the attacking end of the park is not Saunders’ main concern; conceding, particularly late on, will be the area of most unease and the manager said: “I’ve pointed out where we made mistakes and we’ve been working on improving those areas in training.”