Chesterfield captain Ian Evatt is happy to have signed a new contract and is already looking forward to a successful 2017/18 campaign.
Evatt extended his stay at the Proact for a further 12 months yesterday and has set his sights on a quick return to Sky Bet League One.
Speaking exclusively to Player HD, Evatt said: I’m pleased to be staying; it wasn’t that difficult of a decision for me even though I did have a couple of offers from elsewhere.
“My family and I are very much settled in this area, I love living here, I love this football club, it’s great to be a part of a new chapter.
“We’ve got a fresh start now and there’s going to be a lot of new faces, it’s going to be a big challenge ahead but I’m really looking forward to it!”
Evatt’s presence in the heart of the Spireites defence was sorely missed after a knee ligament injury forced him out of the final nine games of the season, but the skipper has been working with the physiotherapists over the last couple of weeks to ensure he’s more than ready for the new season.
“I’m fully fit now, I’m choosing to come in throughout the summer and also to set a good example to everybody else,” he said. “It’s important for me to do that and if I can keep myself in the best condition I’ve been in for a number of years then it’ll give me a good chance for next season.
“I’ve literally just been getting my fitness up, I’m getting myself back up to full speed, trying to trim down a bit and get as fit as I possibly can.”
One of the reasons behind Evatt’s decision to stay at the club was the influence of manager Gary Caldwell and his assistant Steve Eyre, which he described as ‘massive’ and the 35-year-old can’t wait to work with them both again.
He said: “I’ve got a good relationship with the manager and Steve; they’re both fantastic football people and good people to work with.
“They had criticism because of the results last season, but it wasn’t down to them, the players just weren’t good enough and things needed to improve.
“The manager is fantastic in the way that he sets his team up, you saw that at Sheffield United and we should have won the game. I’ve got full confidence in the both of them and they were a huge reason for me to stay.”
The former Derby County and Blackpool man is likely to be joined at the Proact by several new faces over the coming weeks, meaning that he along with the likes of Sam Hird and Tommy Lee will play an important part in helping the new players adjust to their new surroundings. With Evatt maintaining that the new arrivals will have to adapt quickly.
He added: “It’s important that we set examples, they’ve got to come in here and realise that this is a place where we demand the best of everybody and demand 110% in training every day and on the pitch, the fans deserve that and we owe that to them.
“Last season was nowhere near good enough, and it’s important that we hit the ground running and start well to give our fans something to cheer about, hopefully we can get ourselves back into League One.”
Despite a difficult season for all associated with the club, Evatt’s impressive form ensured he took the majority of the supporters vote in the Player of the Year Award.
And the long-serving defender thanked the Spireites faithful for their continued support, though he admitted that receiving the award was a bittersweet feeling.
“The fans have been great with me in my first spell here right up to now,” Evatt said.
“They’re fantastic people and I love living in the area, I really appreciate the support. But when a team gets relegated it’s hard to celebrate anything, I take it very personally when I’m a captain of a team that gets relegated.
“It hurts, and it has to hurt a footballer who doesn’t win games and affect your life and it has mine.
“All I can say to the fans is thank you for your support; I hope we can give you something to cheer about next season.”
And does that something include an immediate return to League One?
Evatt added: “Let’s hope so, we’ve it once before in my time here and let’s hope we can do it again.”