Dean Smith says James Chester is “fine for the game” against Birmingham City on Sunday after making a full recovery from a knee injury. The Aston Villa centre-back was carrying a knock from international duty that threatened to rule him out of the Second City derby, but Smith revealed he’s returned to training and will face the Blues at Villa Park.
As per the Express and Star and Villa’s official website, he said: “Chester (is) out there training and ready. Chester (has) trained fine. Chester (is) fine for the game (against Birmingham)”. It’s great news for Villa, as they could ill afford to be without such a key player for an important game – Chester has played in 16 of Villa’s 17 Championship league games this season.
The 29-year-old has made 112 appearances in all competitions since joining from West Bromwich Albion. Steve Bruce heavily relied on Chester prior to his sacking, so much so that he allowed Tommy Elphick to join Hull City on loan without having a replacement in mind. It’s left Smith with only two options at centre-back (Chester & Axel Tuanzebe) and no obvious replacement should either player succumb to injury.
Alan Hutton or Mile Jedinak may have been required to operate in a makeshift role if Chester missed Sunday’s game, but Smith will be relieved to have his defence unchanged for Birmingham City’s visit.