Sheridan left with selection dilemma

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League Two leaders Chesterfield FC will be without Deane Smalley at Lincoln City on Saturday after he was sent off at Bury in midweek.

Results elsewhere left the Spireites with a five-point cushion at the top but the on-loan striker will have to watch the Imps game from the stands after being shown a second yellow card at Gigg Lane.

The offence carries an automatic one-match suspension and Spireites boss John Sheridan had little sympathy. He said: “I’m very disappointed, it’s his own fault, it was stupidity, I’m not going to defend him in any way. He’s a silly boy, shouldn’t have done it, kicking a ball away and then pulling the lad back in a silly area.’’

Smalley (22) has been a revelation since he joined the Blues from Oldham in November and his current tally stands at seven goals in his last ten games. His enforced absence at Sincil Bank, however, leaves Sheridan with a potential selection headache.

Leading marksman Craig Davies, who scored his 16th goal of the season when he gave Chesterfield the lead against the Shakers, operated as a lone striker at Bury.

It was his first goal since New Year’s Day but if Sheridan wishes to play two up front at Lincoln his first choice, Jack Lester, may not be available. The veteran hit man was described by his manager as being ‘very poorly’ but fingers were crossed that he will have recovered to pass muster for Saturday.

If that does not happen another option could be to start with either Jordan Bowery or Scott Boden.

Livewire wide man Drew Talbot (foot) and the adaptable Dwayne Mattis (calf) missed the draw at Bury but Sheridan hopes Talbot will be available for the match against the Imps.

Also in the mix will be Crystal Palace winger Kieran Djilali (20) who has re-joined the Spirietes, initially on a month’s emergency loan until March 19.

It is Djilali’s second loan spell with Chesterfield as he made eight appearances for the Blues last season and scored his first senior goal.

After watching him perform at Gigg Lane, Sheridan said: “He’s an exciting player, we saw little glimpses of him. He’ll give us a bit of a lift because he’ll run at people.’’

Earlier, Sheridan signed experienced defender Dean Holden on contract until the end of the season. Holden (31) was a a free agent after his contract with Shrewsbury Town was cancelled by mutual consent on January 31. He has previously been with Sheridan at Oldham and has had spells with Peterborough United and Falkirk and was on loan earlier this season at Rotherham United.

Meanwhile, Chesterfield’s ten-match unbeaten run – which began in November – came to an end at Burton who beat the Blues for the third time this season.

Sheridan said: “They must love playing against us after beating us three times. I expected us to come and play a little bit more but they had opportunities and Tommy Lee kept us in the game in the first half. The goal was very soft and once you go a goal down, you’re always chasing the game. In the second half our ball retention was very poor again, that’s been our downfall for the last three or four games.’’

The manager was also upset to concede a very early second-half leveller at Bury after leading 1-0 at half time. He said: “ I go in at half-time and I say ‘keep a clean sheet,’ tell them what to do and after just 45 seconds, it’s a joke goal. They get some momentum then, a lift from the crowd and they’re in the driving seat. If we’d have held on for ten minutes I think we’d have gone on and won the game.’’

On Tuesday, Chesterfield play their fourth away game on the trot when they travel north to play Bradford City.