Spireites well-placed for promotion challenge

Oldham vs Chesterfield JPT'Chesterfield Boss Paul Cooke celebrates at the end
Oldham vs Chesterfield JPT'Chesterfield Boss Paul Cooke celebrates at the end

Paul Cook believes Chesterfield are well placed in League Two ahead of a hectic festive season, despite sweating over the fitness of seven key players.

The Spireites sit second in the table ahead of Saturday’s visit of Plymouth Argyle, managed by the man he succeeded at the Proact Stadium, John Sheridan.

Cook’s side are just two games away from making a return to Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy - the same competition they won in 2012 - after defeating Oldham Athletic on Tuesday.

And they play six times in three weeks but the Spireites manager said a week is too long to go without a football match.

He said: “The good thing about playing midweek games is that you get used to playing every three days, so when there’s no game you feel like something’s gone out of your life.

“We had a period of drawing one or two too many the other week and a period of getting a couple of good results on the bounce, but the one thing that stayed constant is our league position. We must keep focusing on ourselves and get as many points as we can on the table.”

Chesterfield responded to a disappointing defeat at home to Southend United in the FA Cup by making valuable progress in the JPT.

“Our fans have been great as of late,” he said. “The home support against Southend was terrific because that’s as bad as we’ve played first half. They’re right behind the team. I know you’ll always get sections of supporters who aren’t happy, that’s the nature of the game we’re in. No one will change it. We’ve got a team that’s doing really well at the minute.”

He added: “It’s the nature of the game you can go from one extreme to the other in the space of three days.

“If we can win Saturday night the chances are we’re going to be in a fantastic league position and in an area final. You wouldn’t want to swap places with many of the teams in our division.”

Both Jimmy Ryan (shoulder) and Liam Cooper (ankle) suffered knocks at Boundary Park and are rated as 50-50 for Saturday.

They join an injury list which includes Sam Morsy (knee), Nathan Smith (ankle), Gary Roberts (hamstring), Jay O’Shea (illness) and Armand Gnanduillet (thigh).

O’Shea and Gnanduillet are expected to be back in contention, while Roberts is likely to be three weeks away rather than six, which was initially thought. Morsy and Smith are back in training.