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Chesterfield goalkeeper Tommy Lee has set his sights on surpassing the sixth place finish achieved in League One last season on the back of signing a two-year contract extension which will keep him at the club until 2018.
The deal will take Lee to a decade with the club after signing from Macclesfield in 2008, and the 29-year-old is confident that improving on last season’s play-off finish is a realistic aim.
He said: ‘I think we’ve got to replicate what we did last season and maybe improve on it. There were 20 points between us and Preston last season, so we need to try and close that gap and I don’t think we were far off last season so that’s the aim.’
Speaking after Chesterfield’s 3-1 loss to Hull City in preseason, Lee declared himself fully fit after the groin injury which kept him out of the preseason openers against Matlock and Buxton.
He said: ‘Preseason has been good, we’ve had a good week in Portugal and it was nice to get out there tonight against a very good team and I think for large spells we were the better team.
‘I’m fine now, I picked up a little niggle in the groin and I was disappointed to miss those [Matlock and Buxton] games because it’s important to get as much time on the pitch as you can but I played 60 in Portugal and to get 90 tonight, I’m only going to improve.’
New manager Dean Saunders is Lee’s fourth during his time with the Spireites and the Welshman’s biggest recruit of the transfer window to date Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is one Lee knows better than most.
‘I did my YTS [Youth Training Scheme] at Manchester United with Sylvan and we’re good friends. I think for the gaffer to get him into the club is a big coup because he’s a fantastic player if he’s fit and hopefully he’s going to get plenty of goals for us this season.’
Saunders has also brought goalkeeper coach Mark Crossley back to the club after the former Nottingham Forest stopper spent the last two seasons with Barnsley after falling victim to Paul Cook’s summer overhaul of 2013.
And Lee is relishing the chance to link up with his former coach once more, adding: ‘I had a good time under Norm [Crossley] when he was at the club and I was delighted to see him come back in. We’ve got a new philosophy coming in from the new gaffer and we’re only going to improve.’
Meanwhile Saunders expressed his delight at retaining the services of Chesterfield’s number one who has notched up 315 appearances for the club in all competitions.
The manager said: ‘I’m really pleased because I think he’s the best goalkeeper in the league and we’ve got him. Any team that I played in that was any good or any team that I’ve managed that’s won anything, we’ve had a really good goalkeeper.
‘I think the fans should be really pleased. His attitude is spot on, he wants to win, he trains properly every day and the club should be proud of him. He’ll save us in games, he’s worth 15 points.’
A pressing task for Saunders now will be to secure those he wants to keep of the 14 players whose deals expire at the end of next season.