Chesterfield midfielder Joe Rowley says back-to-back relegations "hurt him a lot" - but he is determined to help club rise again

Chesterfield midfielder Joe Rowley.
Chesterfield midfielder Joe Rowley.

Joe Rowley says being part of Chesterfield's back-to-back relegations out of the Football League "hurt him a lot" - but he is determined to help the club rise again.

The 20-year-old broke into the Town starting line-up in the 2016/17 season and signed his first professional contract towards the end of that campaign which ended in relegation from League One for the Spireites.

The following season was another disappointing one for the club and Rowley as The Blues finished bottom of League Two.

"It has hurt me a lot personally because I have been here a long time and I have been through all the dark days but hopefully now we are looking like we are turning a corner," Rowley said.

"It is definitely going to help me. Every experience that I have I can learn from.

"It was tough, really tough, mentally more than anything, having to impress a lot of coaches and managers time and time again. I just had to keep my head down and do what I do best.

"I have got to take part of the responsibility for that (two relegations), as well as a lot of other people, but hopefully now we can turn a corner and get the club back to where it belongs.

"From where it was to where it is now, it should never have happened but the club has still got big ambitions to be where it wants to be which is in the Football League.

"The players we have got in the dressing room are very good players, have won numerous promotions so we are full of confidence and full of belief that this season can turn to be a good one."

The energetic midfielder came through the Chesterfield academy and is on course to reach 100 appearances for the club by the end of the season.

This campaign got off to a terrible start for Town with no wins in their first 11 but they are steadily improving with four wins from their last five.

Rowley said: "The team morale is a lot higher than what it was at the start of the season

"Our work ethic has been very good and with that has come the performances.

"The manager expects big demands and he expects us to put those demands on ourselves as well as each other. We are definitely asking more of each other individually and collectively.

"The start to the season has not been what anyone expected, it has been very frustrating.

"I think there is still a lot to learn. I feel like I need to score more goals.

"You can't rely on Scott Boden, Tom Denton or Mike Fondop, or whoever is up front to score we all need to chip in as well, including midfield.

"We can't take our foot off the gas, we need to keep pushing and demanding from each other."

Rowley has been asked to play in a number of different positions so far this season including at right wing-back but is now operating further forward on the right flank and is starting to show some consistency in his performances.

"I feel like I am a versatile player so I don't mind what position I play, I will give 100 per cent whatever position I play in," he told the DT.

"It was different (playing right wing-back). The defensive side of my game came out a little bit but it can only improve me as a player.

"I feel that everyone has upped their performances and stayed consistent over the past couple of weeks so we just need to carry that on and we can push up the table."

And boss John Sheridan has full belief in Rowley as a player and praised him ahead of tomorrow's game at Ebbsfleet United.

"The most important thing for Joe is that he knows he has got a manager who thinks he is a really good player," Sheridan said.

"He is a young player who has played a lot of games.

"It has been difficult for him over the last two years because of the relegations and he has been part of that and it is not good for any player. It is going to knock him back a bit.

"I think since I have changed the system around I think he has been one of our best players. I think he really enjoys playing where he is at the moment and consistently I would say he has been the best player, he knows his job, what he has to do and how to play the position.

"I would like him to express himself more on the pitch, believe in himself more. He is very quiet. Even though he is young I would like him to be more demanding on the pitch.

"He should be scoring more goals but in this short period of time while we have been on this run I think he has been one of the best players."