Youth team defender Dylan Hand admits that the next few months will provide a test, as he bids to win a professional contract with the club.
The second-year scholar has impressed since arriving from his native Ireland at the start of last season and believes that Miguel Llera’s arrival has helped to improve him as a player.
“It’s all I’ve worked for and I’m so determined to get one,” Hand said of what it would mean to get a contract.
“There’s more pressure on me this season, but you have to keep going and do the best that you can to try and get one. Since Miguel's come in I think I’ve developed a lot more, I’ve communicated better and that was something I needed to improve in my game.
“I’ve learned a lot from Miguel and I’m always talking to him about how I can improve.”
The Irishman has already had a taste of senior football, having featured in the club’s Derbyshire Senior Cup match with Belper Town last month, while also appearing in a couple of the club’s pre-season friendlies last summer.
On those experiences, Hand said: “You learn a lot from them in terms of football, it helps you get ready for the first team.”
Last weekend the defender was part of the youth team starting XI that won their first game of 2018 away at Doncaster Rovers, lining up alongside first-year scholar Jamie Sharman in the heart of defence, a partnership that he feels is working well.
As well as lining up alongside the first-year scholars, Hand was also joined by several of the U16s who will form next season’s intake of scholars and he used the opportunity to pass on his knowledge.
“I think they’re just getting better and better every week that they play for us,” he said. “They’re learning and getting better information from us every week.
“Myself and Jamie get on well, with his height he wins a lot of headers and I’m able to cover him because I’m quick. We’ve got a good connection together.”
The win over Doncaster was the team’s eighth in their last 11 matches in all competitions, with Llera commenting that the margin of victory could have been greater, something Hand agrees with.
He said: “I thought it was a solid performance, we managed the game and pressed well – that’s where our second goal came from. So, it was a good team effort.
“We had a lot of chances, we just didn’t take them, had we have done then it would have been sealed a lot earlier.
“With about 10 minutes to go they were pushing on us, so we were under pressure, but we dealt with it well.”
The young Spireites now don’t have a game until the visit of Bradford City on Saturday, February 10 (11am) and while the break could be viewed as frustrating by many, Hand feels that it might not be such a bad thing, as it will allow the team to spend more time on the training pitch in readiness for an assault on the EFL Youth Alliance North East league table.
“You want to play, but sometimes you need that break to regroup and build on things,” the Irishman added.
“Miguel says that he wants us to win the league, which is high expectations, but I feel that we could if we play at the best we can.
“I feel that we’re better than every team we’ve come up against, Rotherham are up there at the moment and have a good team, but we’ve got the beating of them.”