Chris Morgan took the hot seat for today’s press conference, taking a quick look back at the win over Northampton and previewing Saturday’s trip to Bury.
Morgan revealed that Northampton’s 31-game unbeaten run in the league was used as extra motivation for the Spireites, that Ched Evans is not ‘nailed on’ to start against Bury even if fit, and that attitudes to training and rest have changed since his day as a player.
Town’s assistant manager first addressed last weekend’s victory over the Cobblers, admitting their much talked about streak was an added incentive before the match.
“We used that, we said to the players, can you be the ones to end it? A lot of people will be talking about you on TV on Saturday night, and even before the Manchester United game they were talking about Chesterfield ending the run.
“We knew it would be difficult but I thought the lads were excellent.
“It was a good all round performance.”
The victory was a perfect response to a growing question mark over the Spireites’ ability to win without Ched Evans on the scoresheet.
Morgan said that was also discussed before the arrival of the Cobblers.
“Ched coming in during the summer, he’s been a big player for us in the early part of the season because of his qualities.
“It has set standards for the other strikers around him.
“From our point of view, we spoke about it on Friday, it would be great to get a win without Ched in the team. People talk about it, it’s a criticism, if Ched doesn’t play well Chesterfield will struggle, but we showed it’s not the case.
“We didn’t have any worries about Kristian (Dennis) or Connor (Wilkinson). For them both to score is great for them and for us.
“The effort they put in, not just the quality, was outstanding.”
Both Dennis and Wilkinson will be in with a shout of retaining their shirts at Gigg Lane, whether Evans is fit or not – Morgan insisting the Welshman wouldn’t simply waltz back into the team if he passes tomorrow’s fitness test.
Although Ian Evatt required an injection for a niggle hip injury this week, Morgan is confident the squad who played last week will all be available again.
And Liam O’Neil continues to progress well in his rehabilitation from a long term foot injury.
“Liam has been making really good strides, it was great to see him out on the grass again doing fitness work,” said Morgan.
“To see him back on the training ground is great, he’ll be a fantastic addition once he’s fit.”
Being careful with players’ energy levels and mindful of necessary rest and recovery periods is not something Morgan remembers from his time as a player.
But he understands why it’s now such a big part of the modern game.
“I think, particularly with someone like Liam, Dan Jones, Angel, long term injuries you have to make sure they’re fully fit.
“They need to be drip fed back in, all the boxes need to be ticked.
“You have to be a lot more mindful with the loan window not existing, even with weekly preparation the ratio between work and rest.
“It’s finding a fine balance.
“The information we get these days is not like when I played when you played Saturday, you came in Monday and trained again.
“At times you think it’s mollycoddling them and you want to get them back in to train again, but what’s coming up.
“When you have three midweek games on the horizon everything has to be tailored.
“We just went in and trained, no one worried about second day recoveries. If you were tired you weren’t fit enough so you had to work harder.”
The confidence of the Chesterfield players is high, after the draw at Oldham and the win over Northampton, although Morgan insists it remained high during their three-game losing streak.
And in training this week, they’ve been working on much of the same stuff that they did before the Cobblers game.
Morgan said: “Teams in this division ask a lot of questions of you, balls into the box, corners, balls from deep and big centre-forwards. That’s what you have to deal with, not just in League One, look at Diego Costa at Chelsea.
“Speaking for the lads, last week they were bitterly disappointed not to keep a clean sheet against Northampton.
“Last week I thought we defended excellently, we had to deal with the physicality and the threat.
“The training this week has maybe mirrored a lot of what we did last week, Tom Pope is going to be another threat although they play two up front which is a bit different to the lone striker.”
Morgan, who accompanied Danny Wilson to the Scunthorpe and Charlton game earlier in the week, also ran through the players he expects to pose questions of his men on Saturday at Gigg Lane, majoring on the physicality of frontman Tom Pope.
Other snippets included a quick update on the positive progress made by Tommy Lee as he rejoins training and a suggestion that Dion Donohue and Kristian Dennis are still arguing over the credit for the third goal last Saturday.