Hull City: Chester can be a little gem - Shakespeare

Hull City number two Craig Shakespeare reckons the club have invested in a future gem in the form of defender James Chester.

Chester agreed terms at the KC Stadium this week to become City's third permanent signing of the January transfer window.

Nigel Pearson made sure he got his man quickly in a bid to shore up his backline.

Daniel Ayala has returned to Liverpool and is unlikely to return and the boss is unconvinced by the cover that Kamil Zayatte, Paul McShane and rookie Liam Cooper can provide at centre-half.

Chester had been on loan at League One Carlisle, but Pearson and Shakespeare believe the Manchester United man has the potential to develop into a diamond of a defender.

Their assertion is based on the fact that the 21-year-old spent most of his youth career at Old Trafford.

But with the Premier League leaders boasting stoppers valued at multi-millions of pounds – Chester cost just 300,000 – his opportunities were always going to be limited at the Theatre of Dreams.

Stints at Peterborough, Plymouth and Carlisle have seen him flourish and Shakespeare said Chester's time at Manchester United will pay dividends for the Tigers as his potential is unleashed during his three-and-a-half-year contract in East Yorkshire.

"He's got that Manchester United mentality," said Shakespeare. "He's gone out on loan a few times and each time he has proved himself.

"We believe he'll be one for the future and a good acquisition."

Concern has been levelled at the height of Chester, who stands at just 5ft 9in – unusually short for a defender.

But Shakespeare insisted that the player will bring a more cultured approach to defending in a black and amber shirt.

That means the 47-year-old has no qualms about the new signing's ability to cope in the rough and tumble of the Championship.

Shakespeare's claim will be examined when Hull take on Barnsley next week, where Chester is likely to make his debut.

Shakespare said: "We've seen with some of the young boys that have come in that they've more than held their own.

"And we expect him to do so as well.

"He's not the tallest of players, but his timing is good and I'm sure you'll see a decent footballer and certainly one for the future here at Hull."

Another of City's stalwarts, striker Mark Cullen, may have to wait some time longer for his potential to be realised.

Cullen featured during the teething stages of the campaign but the arrivals of Matty Fryatt and Aaron McLean mean the 18-year-old is out of Pearson's plans as he links up with Bradford on loan.

Shakespeare said Cullen still has plenty to offer City, although he will have to wait to deliver the goals he is threatening to plunder while at the Bantams.

He found the net in the dying embers of the Premier League last season and showed how clinical he can be with an instinctive finish at Brentford earlier this campaign.

However, Shakespeare says moving the Ashington-born player to Bradford will see a more predatory front man return to the action for the Tigers in four weeks' time.

"Mark's been a bit unfortunate in that he's had reduced numbers in terms of game time," Shakespeare said.

"He's a player we have good belief in in terms of the future.

"With the calibre of the centre forwards we've brought in we feel as though we don't want to stifle his progress and we feel that it's in his best interests to go out and get a few games.

"He'll go to Bradford for a month initially and we'll see where we go with that. But we believe he has a bright future with Hull.

"We're just trying to get him up to speed and get him the games we feel he needs."

The burst of activity in the January transfer window has helped to rekindle optimism amongst supporters, not least given the upturn in fortunes on the pitch.

Hull's smash-and-grab win at Portsmouth signified the team's changing luck.

The new regime have provided funds to stir hopes of a second half play-off push, with McLean and Fryatt's purchase totalling 2.5m on its own.

And Shakespeare hopes that the cheque book won't be put back in the drawer just yet as he and former Leicester comrade Pearson have plenty more bodies that they would like to add to their squad.

"It might change," said Shakespeare when asked if the transfer activity was over. "For now, that's it, but you know what it's like in this silly transfer window.

"We'd like strength in all areas."

But Shakespeare says any more purchases will only be made to mould a City team capable of finishing in the top six.

He added: "It's also about who becomes available.

"You look at the market at the moment, whether it be buying, loan or whatever and you've got to see that what you're buying is better than what you already have.

"I feel as though you should keep trying to improve and we'll constantly do that."

Pontus Jansson.

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