Roberto Di Matteo assesses James Chester's Aston Villa debut

Aston Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo

The 27-year-old centre-back made his first appearance for the club in Saturday's 3-0 home win over Rotherham United just 24 hours after completing his move from West Bromwich Albion.

Aston Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo

Aston Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo was quick to praise new signing James Chester after the 27-year-old defender produced an impressive debut performance in Saturday's 3-0 win over Rotherham United at Villa Park.

Chester only completed his switch from Midlands neighbours West Bromwich Albion on Friday afternoon but was thrust straight into the line-up for the first home game of the season just 24 hours later after fellow centre-back Nathan Baker was ruled out through injury.

The ex-Manchester United youngster promptly responded by delivering a composed display alongside skipper Tommy Elphick in the heart of defence, racking up five interceptions and seven clearances to ensure that the claret and blues picked up both their first win and clean sheet of the campaign.

Speaking to Villa’s official website at the final whistle, Di Matteo admitted he took a slight risk starting the Wales international so soon after his move but added that he was more than pleased with how he handled the occasion.

“It wasn’t easy for him,” the Italian told “It was his debut after half a training session. I took a calculated risk in that but you can see today the reasons why I tried very hard to sign him.

“He’s an out and out defender and also has a calm influence on the others around him.

“We hope he will have a good season with us.”

West Brom's James Chester in action with Watford's Allan Nyom

Chester, who has signed a four-year deal with Villa, joined West Brom from Hull City last summer for a reported £8 million fee but went on to make just 12 Premier League appearances for the club during his lone season at the Hawthorns, often playing out of position at right-back.

The Warrington-born defender subsequently started every game of Wales’ fairytale run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals, however, and impressed enough to convince Di Matteo that he would be the ideal signing to fill the gap left by Ciaran Clark’s recent departure to Newcastle United.

Wales' James Chester in action with Belgium's Eden Hazard

He has already enjoyed success in the Championship before, having helped Hull secure promotion to the Premier League in 2013, and is now determined to repeat that feat with Villa at the first time of asking.

“I’m obviously aware of how big a club it is,” Chester told AVTV before his debut. “I’ve seen for myself the facilities at the training ground. Everything’s geared for the top-flight, and I’ve come here to hopefully make that happen.

“I’ve grown up watching the club in the Premier League. Unfortunately, after last season we’re not there anymore, but I’ve spoken to the manger and he’s ambitious to get players in that not only know the Championship but can play in the Premier League if we do succeed in doing that.”

James Chester (2nd L) celebrates with team mates after scoring the third goal for Hulll

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