The Chesterfield bargains to be had for Cook

Gary Roberts. Picture: James Williamson
Gary Roberts. Picture: James Williamson
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A MIDFIELDER who has reached the play-offs or higher in each of his last six seasons.

Then there’s the rampaging right-back who started every league match of the campaign.

Or how about a holding midfielder with the energy levels to take him box-to-box?

Don’t forget the team captain with a penchant for picking up bookings through his combative style.

All Pompey eyes are on Chesterfield as new boss Dean Saunders attempts to shut up shop to prevent his predecessor from raiding his precious wares.

Potential targets actually electing to follow Cook to the south coast range from the likely to the improbable but the Spireites are bracing themselves for his return.

And it promises to be a fascinating summer of recruitment for the new Blues boss as he sets about transforming his underachieving squad.

Leading the way is Gary Roberts, a left-footed midfielder who operates as part of the three in Cook’s preferred 4-2-3-1 system.

Favouring the central role, the 31-year-old is a skilful performer who this season netted eight times in 42 games.

The former Swindon man also weighed in with 11 assists – while last term in League Two produced 10.

Roberts, who is contracted to Chesterfield until the summer of 2016, has incidentally never been in a team which has finished in the bottom half of the league,

In addition, over the last six season he has reached the play-offs with Huddersfield (three times), Swindon and Chesterfield – and won the title once.

Another realistic target for Cook is out-of-contract Jimmy Ryan.

Operating as one of the two holding midfielders, the 26-year-old made 52 appearances this season.

Ryan was heading to sign for then-Conference side Luton when Cook stepped in and took him to the Spireites in the summer of 2013 and since has proven to be a crucial cog.

Regarded as the heartbeat of their side, he is a hard-working player who can get forward yet lacking the goal return of other more attack-minded players.

Chesterfield are eager to keep Ryan, but he is now a free agent having turned down their latest offer.

Bordering on the unrealistic side would be a swoop for player-of-the-season Tendayi Darikwa.

A winger converted into an attacking right-back, the 23-year-old became the first outfield player to start every league match since former Pompey man Tom Curtis in the Spireites’ 1995-96 campaign.

However, Darikwa has been linked with a move to Leeds and appears to be destined for the Championship rather than dropping back into League Two.

Sam Morsy is another highly-regarded performer and a tough-tackling player who picked up 13 bookings and one red card this season.

The midfield partner of Ryan, he has one year remaining on his contract.

Young midfield duo Ollie Banks and Dan Gardner could also come into the reckoning to recruit, even though not first-team regulars.

Cook won’t be encouraged by Chesterfield, but there are bargains to be had.