The youth team are away at Port Vale this evening in the FA Youth Cup.
Academy manager Neil Cluxton believes it will be a valuable experience for the youngsters, saying: “It’s a good opportunity for our boys – pitting ourselves against league opposition – and we’re going to it in confident mood after two good ties.
“Obviously they are going to be a good team. They’re full-time and they’re paid scholars. They’ll have 18 paid scholars while our players pay to come here. What we’ve found is that we’ve got hungry players. There’s nobody resting on their laurels. They’ve all come with a point to prove.
“Most of our players have been released by somebody along the way so I think they’ll be relishing the game. Port Vale are obviously going to be favourites and we respect them but we’re going to give it a good go.”
Cluxton believes that the strength of academies in the National League should not be under-estimated as the young Spireites prepare to face a side representing an EFL club. He said: “We’ve been out of the Football League academy set-up now for three or four seasons, but I’ve found that the National League teams with us are now on an even keel. There are some big clubs in the National League – some big ex-Football League clubs.
“We’ve got a good squad of Under-18 players with a lot of players to pick from so I’ve got some big decisions to make over the next few days.”
The tie will be played at Kidsgrove Athletic’s ground with a 7pm kick-off. “It would be great to see some of our supporters there, getting behind the lads,” added Cluxton.