First-year scholar Zak Walker says that there’s no reason why the youth team can’t enjoy a successful second half of the season.
Seven wins from their last 10 matches in 2017 ensured that the Spireites headed into the Christmas and New Year break with plenty of optimism. And now they have their sights on a charge up the EFL Youth Alliance North East table.
“Personally, I think we can win the league,” Walker said. “I don’t think there are many teams in this league that can beat us.”
“We’ve had a few unfair results, like against Rotherham United when we scored four goals and then slacked a bit at the end and they got the equaliser and scored in the last minute.
“We’ve not had a game lately, which has been frustrating because we want to get back out there as soon as possible and pick some points up.”
Walker started on the left wing in the team's last fixture, a 2-0 loss to Swansea City in the FA Youth Cup - and although it’s not his usual position, he’s happy to play wherever is required for the team.
“It was a good experience and I really enjoyed it,” Walker said of the match in South Wales. “I think if we took our chances – the few we had – we’d have got through.
“Through the U16s I played as a number 10 so I got a lot of the ball, but Miguel [academy coach Miguel Llera] wants me on the left wing so I can cut in and get my shots off.
“I enjoy it out on the wing as I get a lot of space to run at players which I enjoy doing. I’d say that my strengths are one v ones and getting at people and then putting the ball in the box.”
Worksop-born Walker joined the Spireites at U16 level last season, after previously spending time with Sheffield United’s academy and was offered an academy scholarship at the end of that campaign.
Though the midfielder’s arrival may not have happened, but for head of academy coaching Matt Whitehouse getting in contact with him.
“I got released from Sheffield United and got an e-mail a week from Matt asking me to come in for a trial,” he recalled.
“I could tell there was a good vibe straightaway, it’s the same at all clubs and the lads are all very welcoming.”
“Matt said ‘I’ve heard you were let go, but that’s not the end, I’d like you to come for a trial’
“They told us they were giving five scholarships out and I gave myself the best opportunity to get one, I thought I had a good season, so I think I deserved one.”
And while he’s only half way through his scholarship, Walker admits that he’d love nothing more than to be offered a professional contract and that he’s buoyed by seeing the success of the likes of Joe Rowley and Charlie Wakefield.
“It shows the club are willing to give young players chances,” he added.