James Chester desperate for return to Aston Villa action
Villa skipper James Chester has opened up on his injury frustration and admitted his return to fitness ‘can’t come soon enough’.
The 30-year-old is currently sidelined with a knee injury which has left him unable to train properly since the start of December.
Despite that, Chester continued to play in the heart of Villa’s defence until the end of last month, when the deadline day signing of Tyrone Mings allowed boss Dean Smith to give him a break.
The Wales international had been one of the club’s most dependable players since joining in an £8million deal from Albion in August 2016.
Chester did not miss a single minute in the Championship until being sent-off in October’s 3-3 draw with Preston, which proved to be Steve Bruce’s final game in charge.
Though there is currently no precise timescale on his return, Smith is hopeful he will be back for the final run-in. Chester said: “It’s never nice to have to sit on the sidelines and watch while you’re out injured.
“Hopefully I’ll be back in contention soon. It can’t come soon enough – believe me!”
The centre-back’s injury is one of several which have ultimately derailed Villa’s once promising campaign and left them sitting nine points adrift of the play-offs.
Smith has also been without Jack Grealish and Axel Tuanzebe since December, while deadline day signing Tom Carroll has been limited to just one substitute appearance due to a hip problem.
Villa will also be without midfield workhorse John McGinn for the next two games after he picked up his 10th booking of the season in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Albion.
Goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic is expected back for the weekend trip to Stoke, after experiencing dizziness in the derby following a first-half clash with Jake Livermore.
“It’s tough,” said Smith. “The injuries certainly haven’t helped, in terms of the quality of players we have had out.”