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Match Previews

Barnsley Preview

7 August 2015

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Chesterfield get their 2015/16 campaign under way against Barnsley at the Proact Stadium on Saturday, with Dean Saunders taking the reins for his first competitive Spireites match.

A bumper crowd is expected, the weather's predicted to be good and it promises to be a terrific afternoon of Sky Bet League 1 football as the new season starts at the home Chesterfield.

Team News

Dean Saunders has a fully fit squad to select from in his first competitive side as manager, with Drew Talbot - who played 45 minutes at Hartlepool United last weekend - in contention to start after last season's struggles with injury. 

New signing Sylvan Ebanks-Blake also looks set to make his debut against the Tykes as the striker looks to return to the free-scoring form that has seen the 29-year-old tear up the Championship in the past.

Barnsley boss Lee Johnson will be without winger Ryan Williams who will miss out through a groin injury after his summer move from Fulham, while midfielder Conor Hourihane is unlikely to start after damaging knee ligaments in pre-season.

Hourihane did make a footballing return this week as he featured in a under 21s match for the Tykes but is unlikely to be in the team from the off at the Proact, with Johnson having a host of younger new signings at his disposal for the match.

Intriguingly, Johnson has spent the summer replacing his older players such as Martin Cranie and Ross Turnbull with younger players. Signings include 21-year-old central defender Alfie Mawson, who has joined permanently from Brentford, while Manchester United duo Ben Pearson and Joe Rothwell have joined the Oakwell club on six-month loan deals.

Form Guide

Despite some key departures from the squad that last season reached the play-offs, the Spireites have enjoyed a particularly fruitful pre-season programme, winning five of their six outings.

The one loss came against Championship side Hull City, but another second tier side, Burnley, were overcome with some style as Chesterfield came from two goals down to beat the Clarets 3-2 thanks to a last-gasp Byron Harrison strike.

Saturday's South Yorkshire visitors have had a similarly enjoyable pre-season, beating the likes of Kilmarnock, Mansfield Town Huddersfield in their warm-up matches, blotting their copybooks only with a 4-0 loss at home to Middlesbrough.

Last season the Spireites secured four points from their two League One matches with the Tykes, Eoin Doyle inspiring Chesterfield to a 2-1 Proact win and Jay O'Shea scoring as his side earned a 1-1 draw at Oakwell as they closed in on the play-offs.

From the Dugout

After finishing the season in the play-offs with now Championship side Preston North End last season, things won't get any easier to start again this time around: Barnsley and Sheffield United awaiting in local derbies to start the campaign.

However, manager Dean Saunders is hoping to take advantage of the early season: "Sometimes you get the big games early before the problems get ironed out. Barnsley have got new players who may need time to gel and you'll always get some strange results on the opening day of the season, it happens every year.

"We need to get the boys focused for Saturday's game and get them ready for what they've got to do. The pitch looks perfect, we're playing against a good Barnsley team who've got a good manager and we'll just have to go and match them, show some desire and whatever they throw at us we've got to have some answers."

With plenty of big clubs shaping up for a tough League One season, as well as plenty of smaller sides spending to try and challenge, the Chesterfield boss knows it will be a tough campaign - as well as knowing how to make sure his side are competitive.

He said: "There are lots of big teams in League One this year, and I was fortunate enough to manage a team that won the league at Doncaster so I know what we need to do and I know what's expected from us.

"Expectations at the minute have probably gone down a little bit because of the players we've lost, so depending on the players I bring in will determine where we're able to finish in the league.

Having spent a tough pre-season getting to know the Spireites players and getting where he wants them to be, Saunders feels that his squad is raring to go ahead of their Barnsley challenge.

"Our players are fit and they're all saying that they're as fit as they've been," he said. "We got them all through pre-season and they're looking really sharp in training and they can't wait for the game on Saturday."

As ever, there will be full coverage of the match across the official Chesterfield FC media channels. PlayerHD subscribers can hear full commentary of the match, while there will also be minute-by-minute Twitter coverage and score updates on the club's Facebook page.

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