James Chester and Alan Hutton are returning to light training at the best possible time, as the eight most important games of Aston Villa’s season approach.
Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand)
Alan Hutton and James Chester have returned to light training with Aston Villa for the final stretch of the Championship season.
Hutton, whose contract expires in June, has made 32 league appearances for the Pride this season. The Scotsman looked to have played his last game in a Villa shirt in February after limping off with a knee injury in the 1-1 away draw with Stoke. Thankfully, the injury wasn’t as bad as first thought.
The 34-year-old has featured in six of Villa’s nine clean sheets this season and offers cover to Ahmed Elmohamady at right-back. Moreover, the Scot will come back into the dressing room at a vital time for Villa, who will need his motivation and experience as the Pride aim to finish in the play-offs.
Perhaps more importantly, the “Has Hutton Scored?” Twitter account hasn’t tweeted ‘yes’ since November 2018.
Chester, who played through his knee injury at the start of the year, has been running on an underwater treadmill earlier this month. This is a device which takes away some of the pressure running on a normal treadmill would.
The Welshman may find it difficult to get back into the starting eleven though, with Tyrone Mings and Kourtney Hause forming a solid centre-back partnership in recent weeks.
Nevertheless, Chester’s quality at Championship level shouldn’t be understated. The 30-year-old’s style of play at the back suits the needs of a Dean Smith side. His 86% pass completion is 6% above that of any other Villa defender.
Both players have come back into the fray at a perfect time for Villa. It might be the case that neither feature in Saturday’s game at home to Blackburn, but Smith will need to rotate his side with a season-defining April on the horizon.