Why John Pemberton believes new signings will strengthen Chesterfield and the striker he is keen to give opportunity to

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John Pemberton believes he has strengthened his starting line-up with the four signings he has made so far.

The Spireites boss wants his team to be hard to beat and improve defensively after shipping 65 goals last season – the joint second worst in the National League.

His latest signing, goalkeeper Kyle Letheren, 32, will bring vital experience but potentially still has his best years ahead of him.

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The addition of Letheren brings an end to any speculation of a return to the club for last season’s number one, Shwan Jalal, 37, whose contract expired at the end of June.

Milan Butterfield, pictured right, has "massive potential", says boss John Pemberton.Milan Butterfield, pictured right, has "massive potential", says boss John Pemberton.
Milan Butterfield, pictured right, has "massive potential", says boss John Pemberton.

"We conceded quite a few goals last year and I have made us stronger behind our defence and stronger in front,” Pemberton said.

“Shwan was great for us but I wanted one who had a lot of potential. He (Letheren) has another four or five years on Shwan.

"He has played in the Football League and done well. He played 22 games last season for Salford and kept 11 clean sheets.

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"When we came in we knew we probably needed another goalkeeper so we monitored a few and he was one of them.

Goalkeeper Kyle Letheren has followed in his dad's footsteps after signing for the Blues.Goalkeeper Kyle Letheren has followed in his dad's footsteps after signing for the Blues.
Goalkeeper Kyle Letheren has followed in his dad's footsteps after signing for the Blues.

"Obviously his dad had played here before as well so that was massive for him. When his dad found out we wanted him he was going nowhere else!”

Central midfielder, Milan Butterfield, 22, joined last month from Pemberton’s former club Kidderminster Harriers and is someone who has “massive potential.”

Explaining why he thought the Bermudian international would be a good fit for the Blues, Pemberton told the DT: “I worked with Milan at Kidderminster. He is a player I didn’t think we had. He’s athletic, he’s 6ft 4in and technically he is very good.

"He’s 22-years-old and people have to understand that.

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"He has got massive, massive potential. Without putting too much pressure on him, he could be anything and I like the idea of that.

"The players have seen in training what he is going to bring to us.

"He was desperate to come. There were a few clubs that were interested in him but his head did not turn, he always wanted to come and I am absolutely delighted to have him.”

Town’s other two signings are familiar faces in Nathan Tyson, 38, and Jordan Cropper, 20, who both had loan spells at the club in the second half of last season and impressed.

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“Not only is Tyson a good finisher he has still got his enthusiasm for the game and he looks after himself so that was a no-brainer,” Pemberton explained.

On Cropper, who has joined on a season-long loan from Burnley, Pemberton added: “I made contact with them (Burnley) as soon as we finished lockdown because Jordan is the type of player who could easily play in the Football League. I spoke to Jordan and said I was going to try and do everything to get him back. He said he was happy with that. I have been liaising with Burnley all the way through the time off and they trust us which is great for us. Sean (Dyche) trusts us with the development of one of his players who has got a big future ahead of him so I can’t tell you how happy I am to have him back.”

Just like Jalal, striker Mike Fondop, who top-scored for Chesterfield last season with 12 goals, has not re-signed ahead of the new campaign after his one-year deal ran out.

But Pemberton wants to give a chance to young forward Luke Rawson to see what he can do.

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He explained: “Mike (Fondop) wanted to keep his options open so that was the way it was.

"I also have Luke Rawson who has been at the club for a long time. He is a lad who supports the club and he has never really had an opportunity and I want him to have an opportunity.

"When I was working in the academy there was him and Levi Amantchi and I felt Luke was probably ignored because of that. Levi had his chance, but Luke never got his opportunity.

"When we have sent him out on loan, I’ve never told him to do it but Luke has always come in and trained in the morning with us and then gone and trained with his (loan) club.

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"He’s never missed a game wherever he has been and he has scored goals so I can’t ignore him. People have to be patient with him, I’ll have to nature him, I’m okay with that becauuse I’ve worked with young players a long time and I know what they need.

"There will be nothing better for me than to stick a home grown player on the pitch and he does well.

"So Luke will get his opportunity, if it is at the expense of Mike, then so be it but I think he deserves an opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Pemberton also provided an update on long-term absentees Laurence Maguire and Luke Coddington.

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Maguire, 23, suffered a knee injury on Boxing Day but has now fully recovered and has not missed a pre-season training session so far.

But it is not so good news for goalkeeper Luke Coddington, 25, (knee) who is likely to remain out for another couple of months.