Dylan Kerr has challenged the youth team class of 2017/18 to emulate their predecessors, when they report back for pre-season training on Monday, July 3.
The 2016/17 campaign saw Ricky German, Joe Rowley, Charlie Wakefield, Dylan Parkin, Jack Brownell and Jay Smith all sign professional contracts with the Spireites and Kerr wants more from his new group.
“We want the first years to have a good year but it’s an even bigger year for our second-year players,” he said.
“The guidelines that we’re setting for this season are totally different from those that we had last season.
“To get six scholars signed up was fantastic and this year we want to focus on can we add to that? And can we do it quicker?”
Ahead of their return to training the players were all given a programme to follow to ensure they have a head start when full training resumes on Monday week.
Kerr said: “It’s a target for them to be at once they’ve come back, so we’ll be starting at maybe 60% rather than zero.
“Our first friendly is on July 11 and we don’t want to over work them in that they are liable to get an injury and break down in training.
“They’ll be back in on June 29, where they’ll have an induction and we’ll set our standards of what we expect from them and what they can expect from us. We start testing them the following day before giving them the weekend off to get themselves ready and focused before reporting back on the following Monday.”
As well as returning to training the youth team will also face a return to match action having last week confirmed their pre-season fixture list.
Starting with Sheffield United’s Development Squad on Tuesday, July 11, Kerr’s men will then face Stoke City U18s at Lilleshall on July 14, Lincoln City at home on July 18.
They then travel to face non-league Maltby Main on Saturday, July 22, before Leeds United away on July 25, Burton Albion on July 29 before a match with Belper Town on August 1.
All of the matches will provide a different level of test for the Spireites and while wanting to win the fixtures, Kerr is not placing too much emphasis on the results.
He asserted: “The importance is that you have the right attitude and the right character because we’re playing some very good teams in pre-season, so it’ll be a measure of how good the first years are who’re coming out of the academy into full time football.
“We’re not looking on results, we’re looking at have we got a structure, have got a base and formation that we’re happy with? Can my central defenders head the ball? Can my strikers hold the ball up; can we get decent deliveries in?
“In the summer it’s great to be outdoors in the heat as it gives the players more time to get adjusted to how we’re going to play this year.”
The coming weeks will mark the first pre-season under Kerr’s tenure as youth team manager and he’s certainly looking forward to doing it, even though it’s been a while since he undertook one.
“I’ve not done a pre-season in England for 20-odd years!” He joked.
“I remember when I was a kid at Sheffield Wednesday, the gaffer used to come in with his shorts rolled up, shirt off and sun tan oil on, I don’t think I’ll be doing that – I’ll have the factor 50 on.
“But I’ll be enjoying the experience of working with the players, staff and this time we’ll have the bonus of working alongside the first team, so it gives the manager a chance to look at the young lads and it gives them the inspiration of seeing how the first team train and the intensity at which they train at.”