Chesterfield manager Jack Lester has challenged his players to continue their recent good form when Manchester City U21s visit the Proact, in the Checkatrade Trophy tomorrow night (7pm).
The Spireites go into the fixture unbeaten in their last five matches and a victory over ‘the Cityzens’ will see them progress into the second round, where they would face either Oldham Athletic at home (if they finish top of northern group F) or an away trip to Fleetwood Town (should they finish as runners-up).
Speaking exclusively to iFollow, Lester said: “It’s important that we put a good performance in and try to win the game, that’s the mentality of the squad. You’ve got to put the effort, character and quality into the game to win it, otherwise we’re not doing our job.
“There’ll be no excuses on the work rate, we haven’t got a game this Saturday, so you leave everything out there, you give absolutely everything to win the game and must try to end the game as fit as you’ve started it, the principles of when we’ve got the ball remain the same.”
The Town players certainly put in a display in their last fixture – Saturday’s 2-2 draw with local rivals Mansfield Town at the One Call Stadium, where despite not being able to hold on for what would have been a well deserved three points, Lester declared himself proud of their efforts and praised how they’ve responded to such heartache on the training ground.
“They were excellent, it was a really top performance in the second half,” he said.
“It was really intelligent with good energy, all the things that we’ve been working on, I’m really pleased with them they were brilliant.
“I was particularly pleased with how they trained yesterday, they were right back at it and the intensity was more than what you’d expect, and it was brilliant so fair play to the players, they’ve got seven points in a week and they’ve come in and trained as well as they have, it’s really pleasing.
“Naturally you’re disappointed when you concede a late goal, but I think they were all pleased with their performances, we’re not going to say that it didn’t matter to concede a late goal, but I couldn’t criticise anybody for their performance they were excellent.”
Victory by two or more goals tomorrow night would be enough to see the Spireites finish as northern group F winners, while should they win 1-0 in 90 minutes or via penalties (after a draw in 90 minutes) they would finish as group runners up.
Lester’s men are aware of the permutations and he confirmed that the players would be ready for penalties should it come to them.
And while the Spireites won’t be facing the likes of Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne, the City team will still feature high-quality players with the likes of England’s U17 World Cup winners Phil Foden and Joel Latibeaudiere in contention to feature at the Proact.
“We’ve seen them play and they’ve got an array of talent,” Lester said of Simon Davies’ team.
“They’re a good side and they’ve got a good model there and they develop good players, so it’ll be a good game.”
Meanwhile, Lester gave an update on the availability of midfielder Jordan Sinnott and defender Matt Briggs.
“Jordan is one who will miss out,” he explained. “He had a bit of an innocuous one in training. He needs a scan on his ankle and I’d be surprised if he plays again this year.
“Matt’s had some personal things to deal with, so he’s had a little bit of time off, he came back into work yesterday and trained well and was bright again today, so he puts himself into contention for tomorrow.”