Column: Wilson's recruitment drive makes Spireites an unknown quantity
Danny Wilson's summer recruitment policy has made the 2016/17 Chesterfield side a bit of an unknown quantity.
The Proact boss has brought in five new faces, so far, and they all have one thing in common – they didn’t play League One football last year.
In fact only one of the new Spireites, Ched Evans, has ever played in League One before.
And even the former Welsh international, Chesterfield’s most high profile signing for some time, has a question mark over his form given a four year absence from competitive football.
There’s an element of intrigue about each and every one of the five new boys.
Those of a glass half full persuasion will be underwhelmed, but for the optimists, there is some real potential in the quintet.
Let’s put Evans’ baggage to one side for one moment – or better still for the next three months – he might be a diamond of a signing in strict footballing terms.
If Wilson can inspire adequate service to the striker, there’s every chance Chesterfield will have a serious goal threat in every game.
That’s the kind of attribute that could ensure an improvement on last season’s 18th place finish in League One.
Another man who knows where the net is will be hoping to fire Chesterfield up the table.
Kristian Dennis has a good goalscoring record at non-league level, but will need to prove his talent transcends what is a big gap in standard between the National League and the third tier of English professional football.
A double figure return would be considered a magnificent debut season for the 26-year-old, but the signing of the much more experienced Evans presumably takes a lot of the pressure off Dennis.
Reece Mitchell is maybe the biggest unknown of the lot.
It doesn’t necessarily follow that a stint in the youth ranks at Stamford Bridge will guarantee a player of real quality in League One.
Signing anyone that was offered a new deal at Chelsea is a coup, however.
And it’s refreshing that the youngster plumped for a better chance of playing for a senior side, instead of remaining in plush surroundings and the relatively inconsequential life of Under 21 football.
If he is as pacey as has been said and can produce an end product, Mitchell will be an exciting prospect.
At the other end of the pitch, much of Wilson’s recruitment is yet to be finalised.
He needs two goalkeepers, one to cover for Tommy Lee while he rehabilitates his post-op shoulder and one to provide competition on a permanent basis.
A left-sided centre-half is also on the shopping list.
But Wilson has filled the aching need for a right-back, with the signing of Paul McGinn.
The 25-year-old has played his entire career north of the border so won’t be so well known to League One rivals.
He’s played a lot of football over the past three years and will have big game experience having taken on the might of Celtic and Rangers.
The only in-coming midfield man thus far is Jon Nolan, who departed Grimsby after a successful spell and of whom the very respected footballer-turned-writer David Preece said: “He really is capable of going as far as he wants if he grabs this chance.”
We won’t know just how shrewd Wilson’s recruitment has been for sseveral months at least, these players need time to settle in, time to adjust to a new level of football and in one case, time to adjust to playing competitively again.
What we do know is that, in general, it’s been a relatively low-risk rebuild.
Financially speaking, only Mitchell commanded a fee, the rest were free agents and Evans will be the most expensive in wage terms, taking a reported £2,000 a week.
With Dan Jones, Ian Evatt and, fingers crossed, Angel Martinez all due to come back in, the Chesterfield side that finished the season is already strengthened in a few positions.
Wilson and Chris Morgan will have had the luxury of a full pre-season to prepare their squad, armed with the knowledge gained in the second half of last season.
It will only take one or two of the new boys to have a significant impact for this summer to be seen as a success.
At the very least, teams coming to the Proact are going to have to do a lot of homework to swat up on the 2016/17 Spireites squad.
And there is plenty of time for others to be brought in before a ball is kicked in anger.
If your glass was half empty at the end of the previous campaign, Wilson’s summer signings might just have enough promise and potential to top you up for the next one.