Date: 24th January 2019 at 6:00am
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Dean Smith has revealed to the Express and Star that James Chester is only training two days a week as he has a “niggle with his knee”. The Aston Villa defender has been playing with an injury this season for the sake of the club and scored against Hull City on Saturday to spark a comeback from 2-0 down.

Smith was full of praise for Chester’s resilience and believes he’s “doing really well”, saying: “Chezzie has been training only a couple of times a week because he had a niggle with a knee. He had an injection before the West Bromwich Albion game. That is how long it has been.

“He has been soldiering on for us and doing really well. It certainly does not help him that he is not training every day. But on Saturday certainly showed the players and us that he can keep getting on with it and do a good job. The goal was a big lift for everyone.”

Chester has made 27 Championship appearances this season, scoring five goals. The 30-year-old has been a consistent figure at the back, but Villa’s defensive record has left a lot to be desired. The Midlands outfit have conceded 45 goals in 28 games and have kept only one clean sheet in their last nine games in all competitions.

Prior to Smith’s arrival, Villa were short on options at the back. Only James Chester and Axel Tuanzebe were naturals at centre-back, but Smith has since signed Kortney Hause on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers and recalled Tommy Elphick from his loan spell at Hull City. The Villans could be in the market for another defender before the January transfer window shuts too.

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