What we learned from Chesterfield's retained list as big summer awaits Spireites

The wait is over.

The clamour to find out who was staying and who would be leaving was growing louder and louder on social media but now we know.

Chesterfield have opted to release seven players, transfer list another four and offer new contracts to four more.

It promises to be an interesting summer at the Spireites as manager Paul Cook reshapes his squad.

Jim Kellermann is to be offered a new contract by the Spireites.

Now the dust has settled a little bit, let’s digest the retained list in a bit more detail….

ANY BIG SURPRISES?

Out of the seven players released, Alex Whittle’s departure is obviously the standout shock decision. The 29-year-old has been a consistent performer and was a strong contender for Chesterfield’s Player of the Year. He made 40 appearances in all competitions despite not being in the starting line-up at the beginning of the season, contributing four goals and a couple of assists. His form dipped a bit towards the end of the campaign but he had been struggling with a groin problem so maybe Cook did not get to see the best of him.

Nobody really saw this coming, but maybe the writing was on the wall when he did not start any of the two play-off games, with Laurence Maguire, a natural centre-back, preferred ahead of him at full-back. Even if Cook has a left-back who he is keen to bring in, Whittle would have provided fierce competition for places and is capable of filling in at centre-back and playing further forward. With fellow left-sider Calvin Miller transfer listed, it makes the decision to release Whittle even more confusing. Put it this way, I don’t think he is going to be short of offers. Time will tell whether Town will regret that one.

In terms of the other six, I don’t think many will have been surprised to see Melvin Minter, Fraser Kerr, Curtis Weston, Joe Rowley, Stefan Payne and Nathan Tyson leave given their lack of game time. Out of those, only Weston was a regular starter under Cook but he didn’t feature in the play-offs.

REDUCING THE BUDGET?

Gavin Gunning, Laurence Maguire, Calvin Miller and Akwasi Asante have all been made available for transfer. Reaction online seems to be fairly mixed and you could probably make a strong case for any of them staying or leaving.

Gunning has been immense for a big chunk of his 16 months at the club, but he’s been hampered by injuries this season, making just 20 appearances, including just five under Cook. He only signed a new contract until summer 2024 last November which, you would imagine, would have made him one of the top earners at the club. If he does depart, his leadership and organisation skills will be missed. I think we all know which former Spireites manager would like to sign him.

Miller was excellent in both play-off games but we didn’t see enough of that throughout the whole season. He only managed one goal in 39 appearances. He has a young family in Scotland and the suggestion seems to be that a move back up north might suit him. Chesterfield took him from Notts County, who wanted to keep him, last summer so again you would think he would have cost a bit in wages.

Maguire is Chesterfield’s longest-serving player, is still only 25 and has played a big part in two successive play-off campaigns. There was reported interest in him from the Football League in the January 2021 transfer window, which resulted in him signing a new contract until summer 2023. I think it is important to have home-grown players like Maguire at the club and he is now coming into his peak years so I would prefer that he stayed.

I would also like to see Asante remain at the club. He got 10 goals in 22 games last season before he ruptured his Achilles. And he got seven in 25 appearances this campaign after returning from that serious injury. Overall, he has a goalscoring record which is better than one in three. A lot was asked of him because of the injury crisis and I think he just ran out of steam towards the end, failing to score in any of his last eight. I think with a full pre-season under his belt and with a settled line-up around him, he would score goals no doubt.

WHOSE BEEN OFFERED NEW DEALS?

New contracts will be offered to Luke Croll, Jak McCourt, Jim Kellermann and Tom Denton.

I’m hearing that at least a couple of these are on reduced terms so it depends on whether the individual players can get financially better deals for themselves elsewhere. It’s important to remember that just because they are set to be offered new contracts, it does not mean that they will definitely stay. These players will now go away and assess their options.

I wasn’t sure that Croll would get a new deal because Cook had not been able to call upon him due to injury and I had similar thoughts on Jak McCourt, who made just two starts under Cook.

Kellermann was a regular and someone Cook spoke highly of in a couple of interviews.

Denton splits opinion but I think he is a good weapon to have off the bench. You need different ways to win a football match and I would back him to score a few goals and win Town some points.

WHAT DOES THE SQUAD LOOK LIKE NOW THEN?

The following players are still under contract: Scott Loach, Jeff King, Tyrone Williams, Maguire, Jamie Grimes, Gunning, Jack Clarke, Saidou Khan, Tom Whelan, Liam Mandeville, Miller, Manny Oyeleke, Joe Quigley, Danny Rowe, Kabongo Tshimanga and Asante.

So there are 16 players on the books, but four of those are transfer-listed. It all points towards a big summer of change and chairman Mike Goodwin has said in one interview that Cook has already made two-three approaches for new signings.

There are a couple of positions which are a bigger priority than others but I think we can expect the squad to be strengthened in all areas.

AND FINALLY…

George Carline and Haydn Hollis, who are both out of contract and have had long-term injuries, have been invited to continue their rehabilitation with the club. I think that’s a nice gesture and it gives them the opportunity to prove their fitness and earn themselves a new deal. Both were in great form before their injuries and Carline was of course Chesterfield’s Player of the Year in 2021 and I think he would be a Cook-type player.