Why Nottingham Forest should avoid a move for James Chester

According to TEAMtalk (h/t Birmingham Live), Nottingham Forest have been credited with an interest in out-of-favour Aston Villa defender James Chester, who is yet to make a Premier League appearance for the Villans this season. 

Championship rivals Middlesbrough have also been linked with a move for the 30-year-old Welsh international, who has only played twice for Dean Smith’s side in the FA Cup and the EFL Cup this term. (TEAMtalk h/t Birmingham Live)

Chester, who was one of the unheralded heroes during Villa’s promotion-winning campaign in the Championship last season, missed the first few months of the ongoing season due to a knee injury, but he has been completely overlooked by Smith since his return from a spell on the sidelines.

james chester
James Chester is yet to feature for Aston Villa in the Premier League this season (Getty Images)

With Aston Villa bolstering their backline with permanent deals for Tyrone Mings and Kortney Hause this past summer and the likes of Ezri Konsa and Bjorn Engels also joining the ranks, Chester has slipped way down the pecking order at Villa Park  

The former Man United, Hull City and West Brom star has found regular minutes hard to come by in the Premier League this season and his lack of involvement has fuelled speculations over a potential exit during the January transfer window. 

The 30-year-old boasts of a wealth of experience in the Premier League, as well as in the Championship, meaning that interest from the second-tier clubs doesn’t come as a big surprise. However, it remains to be seen whether Villa would be willing to sanction a departure for Chester, who is arguably their most experienced defender, amidst relegation struggles.

Meanwhile, Nottingham Forest currently find themselves placed 5th in the standings after an impressive first half of the campaign that has seen the Reds lay down a marker as one of the playoff favourites. 

The two-time European champions are in with a realistic chance of securing a return to the Premier League for the first time in over two decades and some fruitful business in the winter market could well see them make a surge for the automatic promotion places. 

To that end, though, central defence is one area where Nottingham Forest don’t really need to make any changes, at least, for the time being, given that stability at the back has been one of the hallmarks of the club’s success in the ongoing campaign. 

James Chester
Chester has emerged as a January target for Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough (Getty Images)

To be more precise, Forest’s defensive record of 26 goals conceded in 26 games in the joint third-best in the entire division, with Leeds United and Brentford being the only other teams to have shipped fewer goals than the Reds. 

Academy graduate Joe Worrall, who spent the previous campaign on loan at Rangers in the Scottish Premiership, has established himself as a key cog in Forest’s backline under Lamouchi. 

Michael Dawson, 36, was a regular fixture at the heart of the defence alongside Worrall earlier in the campaign but he has been relegated to bench duty more often than not in recent months following his return from injury, with Tobias Figueiredo establishing himself in the playing eleven. 

Chema Rodriguez hasn’t had too many opportunities to prove his worth following his switch from Spain back in the summer but the Spaniard has chipped in with commanding shifts whenever he has been called into action. 

Alexander Milosevic was released from his contract earlier in the season after failing to break into Lamouchi’s plans but Forest still have the likes of Yohan Benalouane and Michael Hefele in their central defensive ranks, neither of whom has been involved in the Championship so far this season.

With that in mind, it is pretty clear that Forest would need to sell before they buy a new centre-back and the club’s links with James Chester doesn’t really make a lot of sense in footballing terms. 

james chester
Chester boasts of over 200 appearances in the English second-tier (Getty Images)

Verdict

Indeed, Chester boasts of over 200 appearances in the English second-tier but he is not someone who Forest need at the moment, with plenty of cover already available at the heart of the defence. 

On top of that, the Reds have some gaping holes to fill at the other end of the pitch where top-scorer Lewis Grabban has clearly been overburdened with the bulk of the club’s goalscoring workload in the Championship. 

The departure of loanee Rafa Mir to Wolves has left Forest short of cover for Grabban in front of goal and it is a no-brainer that they would be better served by looking for attacking reinforcements in the winter market. 

Having said that, Nottingham Forest dropping their interest in James Chester would make sense for a number of reasons. 

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