Middlesbrough are facing a minor injury crisis at the centre-back position, with two senior central defenders ruled out for the foreseeable future. Could this 27-year-old potentially be the answer?
It was a position that was such a strength for the team last season, with Ben Gibson and Daniel Ayala combining to assure a stellar goals conceded record, but they now must act quickly to patch over any frailties before they kick off their Premier League campaign.
A player who fits that bill perfectly is Chester, a centre-back who shone during Euro 2016, but has found playing time hard to come by at his club side West Bromwich Albion.
Wales' James Chester in action with Belgium's Eden Hazard
Middlesbrough's centre-back options have diminished over the summer, with Jonathan Woodgate and Rhys Williams both being released by the club. They moved quickly when the transfer window opened to sign Bernardo Espinosa from Sporting Gijón on a free transfer, but the Colombian brought with him a knee injury that he sustained back in January, leaving him unavailable for selection at the moment.
However, the key blow to the Boro backline is surely the re-occurence of Daniel Ayala's ankle injury that has plagued the Spanish stopper in recent times, and has left Middlesbrough without their natural leader in the centre of defence. The result of these injury problems is that Aitor Karanka is left with just two centre-backs to choose from in his squad - journeyman defender Alex Baptiste, 30, who himself is returning from a lengthy injury lay-off, or youngster Dael Fry, 18, who is hotly rated for the future but has played just a smattering of championship games.
The Teesside club have looked to solve this problem already by adding to their squad, but the arrivals have been hampered for a number of reasons. It looked at first as though Middlesbrough had pulled off a real coup by agreeing a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund centre-back Neven Subotic, from under the noses of larger clubs such as Arsenal, however the Serb's medical highlighted a rib problem which would require the player to have surgery and the deal was scrapped.
Then Middlesbrough lodged a bid of £4 million for Hull's Harry Maguire, according to Sky Sports, but Steve Bruce's departure from the club means that all potential player out-goings at the club have been put on hold.
Now, with Middlesbrough considering other defensive options, James Chester must be a player on the club's radar. Despite having plenty of Premier League experience to his name, the Welshman has been frustrated by has lack of games at West Brom, with manager Tony Pulis struggling to accommodate Chester in his defensive line ahead of taller centre-backs such as Gareth McAuley, Jonas Olsson and Jonny Evans.
After an impressive Euro 2016, playing as a part of Chris Coleman's 5-3-2 system, indications suggest that this summer will see Chester move on to a new club where he can compete for more regular first-team football. His performances in France this summer will leave no shortage of interested parties, and his current club West Brom may see this situation as a chance to recoup some of the £8 million fee they payed to bring Chester to the Hawthorns in the summer of last year.
Middlesbrough have already delighted their fans a few times this summer with some impressive additions to the squad, and boss Karanka has spoken in recent interviews of his desire to bring in some more cover for his defensive positions. Would the versatile Wales international Chester be intrigued by the prospect of the Riverside revolution as Boro make their return to the top-flight? If he is available at a fair price, and it seems clear that Middlesbrough have no problem with splashing the cash this summer, then James Chester should sit right at the top of Aitor Karanka's wish-list.
Chester impressed with his performances this summer