Chesterfield's new head of recruitment predicts 'busy summer' at Spireites

Chesterfield’s new head of recruitment Neill Hornby says it is going to be a ‘busy summer’ at the Spireites.

By Liam Norcliffe
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 8:44 pm

Hornby arrives after holding a similar role at Burton Albion and four years as a scout at Ipswich Town.

The Blues currently have 17 players under contract, but four of those have been transfer-listed as manager Paul Cook aims to reshape his squad for the new National League season.

“It is going to be a busy summer but we are not going to bring in a boat load of players just for the sake of it,” Hornby told the DT.

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Chesterfield's new head of recruitment, Ian Hornby.

“We are in negotiations with one or two others at the moment.

“We are constantly in dialogue with players and agents, setting up meetings. It is a busy time of the year.

“At times people might think it is quiet and we are not doing anything but we will be. We will be working hard to find the right players for our football club.

“We are not going to get it right all the time, we might recruit a player and he might not perform for whatever reason, that is football. We all make mistakes but hopefully not too many."

Chesterfield made their first summer signing this week in former Doncaster Rovers left-back, Branden Horton, 21, on a free transfer and he fits the type of profile that they are aiming to recruit. But, as Hornby explains, they are looking for a nice mix and not just a team full of youngsters.

“We are looking at players who are young and hungry like Branden Horton who we have just signed,” he said. “He has had 20 EFL games, he is a very good player and I am very surprised Doncaster let him go. He ticks a lot of boxes for us. He will kick-on, he could have real resellable value but ultimately we want him to come on the journey with us. We want Branden to be our left-back in League Two, League One and beyond.

“On the flip side of that, we will be looking and meeting with players who have got a vast amount of experience in the EFL. But that is not to say we won’t be recruiting from the National League and different leagues as well if they suit our profile of player that we are looking for. It is all right getting all these fit and energetic players who can run around but we have got to get better with the football so we will be looking at players who are technical players as well. Not only have they got to be able to run, be good on the ball but they have got to be the right characters as well."

The appointment is one the communtiy trust has placed a lot of importance on since they took over the club and the idea is to ensure they have more stability when it comes to player recruitment.

Hornby, who saw Chesterfield’s last three games last season, got the job after taking a call from first-team coach Gary Roberts.

He narrowly missed out on working with Roberts and Cook at Ipswich as he left to return to Burton Albion just as the pair came in at the Tractor Boys.

Cook’s son Kieran has been appointed Chesterfield’s chief scout for the south of the country and will work alongside Hornby. They have not worked together before but have known each other for around four years.

Hornby plans on coming to watch the Spireites around once every six weeks, but he expects to be at about four or five games a week looking at potential players.

Hornby has just come from Dubai and says he will be working closely with boss Cook.

“The phone didn’t stop while I was away, trying to get people across the line and making enquiries about players so it is full on,” he added.

“I am really excited. It is going to be hard work and challenging. It is a big, big club.

"The whole project, the stature of the club, everything just appealed to me.”