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Life with the up-and-down Spireites is never dull...

By Herald Express  |  Posted: January 17, 2013

By DAVID THOMAS

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LEAGUE TWO champions in 2011, relegated last season and now under their third manager in six months – life is seldom dull at Chesterfield FC.

Promotion-winning boss John Sheridan, already in new employment at Plymouth Argyle, paid the price for a slow start this season, after the drop last May.

Caretaker Tommy Wright, Sheridan's assistant, did pretty well in a caretaker role, so it was a bit of a surprise when owner Dave Allen turned to Paul Cook as the new boss in late-October.

It wasn't the man himself, so much as the fact that Cook had only become manager of Accrington Stanley last February.

Cook is now working with Sheridan's backroom team of Wright and goalkeeping coach Mark Crossley, and a good run of six wins and three defeats in eleven games sees the club only a point off the Play-Offs.

They've done it while Cook appears to be trimming his wage-bill, recently releasing the likes of Craig Westcarr and Luis Boa Morte, returning striker Brennan Dickenson to Brighton and loaning out goalkeeper Richard O'Donnell to Stockport.

In goal is fans' favourite Tommy Lee, a rightly popular player who would have made more than his 188 appearances but for injuries since his move from Macclesfield in 2008.

Drew Talbot is currently out with a broken toe, so ex-Leeds and Doncaster defender Sam Hird looks like playing at right-back, with former Yeovil stalwart Nathan Smith at left-back.

Ex-Oldham, Preston and Rochdale stopper Neal Trotman and former Hull youngster Liam Cooper are the likely centre-back pairing.

Nippy youth product Tendayi Darikwa looks like having a good career ahead of him on the right wing, while Danny Whitaker (see Opposition Watch, left) has plenty of know-how and spirit on the left.

Sam Togwell (Barnsley, Scunthorpe) offers plenty of experience in central midfield, possibly alongside young homegrown prospect Craig Clay.

There appears to be a real threat up front, now that former Birmingham and MK Dons striker Jay O'Shea has turned his loan into a permanent move.

O'Shea has scored three times already, and senior forward Marc Richards has also hit form of late now that he's clear of injury.

O'Shea and Richards (2) finished off Northampton (3-0) inside the first 25 minutes at home last Saturday.

It means that Cook can afford to look after the ageing legs of 37-year-old 'legend' Jack Lester.

Now in his sixth season with the Spireites, after a goal-laden career with Grimsby, Nottingham Forest twice and Sheffield United, Lester's eight goals this season have taken his tally for Chestefield to 91 (from 168 starts) and his career total to 171.

Cook may be stretched for defensive options, but he has choices in midfield and up front.

Ex-Arsenal starlet Mark Randall knows his way around midfield, while Lester and former trainees Jonathan Wafula and Scott Boden can all do a job in attack.

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