Why popular pair Tom Whelan and Grant Smith have been allowed to leave Chesterfield

Chesterfield boss James Rowe has lifted the lid on why Tom Whelan and Grant Smith have been allowed to leave the Spireites.

By Liam Norcliffe
Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 4:45 pm

Midfielder Whelan, 25, left by mutual consent today and goalkeeper Smith, 27, also left by mutual consent last month and has joined Yeovil Town.

The pair were popular with Town fans so there has been some surprise at their departures.

On Whelan, Rowe told the Derbyshire Times: “Tom did well when he first came in but with the emergence of Jack Clarke at the end of last season, we obviously can’t have three ‘number 10s’ in the building for one position, or potentially two if we play with two 10s, so Tom’s game time was going to be limited unless certain things happened out of his control and he wanted to be in control of that, his game time.

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Tom Whelan has left Chesterfield by mutual consent.

“He has been available since the start of June but he has not had the offers that he wanted from other clubs so he now wants to go out and trial at a few clubs, I believe, and for that he asked if his contract could be mutually terminated and it was.”

Whelan had a great start to life at Town after joining from Weymouth for a small fee in December, scoring five goals, but he fell down the pecking order as the season went on.

Rowe added: “He had a personal circumstance that I don’t want to go into that probably saw him come out of a great vein of form, which will knock anyone. Adversity such as that, people can react in different ways.

“At the same time, you have got to remember that Liam Mandeville’s and Jack Clarke’s form from February/March time was really impressive so those two things combined resulted in Tom not getting perhaps the game time that he wanted.

“Coming into the summer, he wanted more guarantees of first-team football, minutes on the pitch, that I could not give him.

“Ultimately I want to protect the happiness of the changing room and that is always important. One player is not the be all and end all of any team. It is never about the eleven, it is always about the squad. I can’t provide any guarantees to anybody but maybe Tom has read the script.

“I have documented that there is going to be some changes and there is going to have to be because we can’t carry a squad around of 25 players."

Stopper Smith joined the Blues in January on a free transfer after leaving Wealdstone and he recorded 10 clean sheets in 18 appearances. His form resulted in him signing a new contract until summer 2022 but, like Whelan, he also found himself out of the team towards the end of the season.

“He wanted guaranteed first-team football and I was not prepared to give him that,” Rowe said. “For me, Grant started well but some mistakes crept in that cost us crucial goals and he came out of the team. He represented himself well in the team the first few months. For him to be guaranteed first-team football down at Yeovil, on a better wage than what he was currently on, we did not want to stand in his way.”