Defender James Chester finally blossoming at Villa Park

Aston Villa's James Chester

The Welsh centre-back is beginning to show his true ability once more under Steve Bruce.

Since the arrival of Steve Bruce at Aston Villa, the club's fortunes have transformed from relegation fodder to candidates for an immediate to the Premier League.

In seven league outings since the former Birmingham City, Hull City and Sunderland boss was installed at Villa Park, The Villans have gone unbeaten and have leapfrogged from 20th to 11th spot in the standings - just four points off the playoffs.

James Chester of Aston Villa after the gameJames Chester of Aston Villa after the game

Bruce's arrival has not only galvanized his team unit, but individual players of his squad. One beneficial in particular has been James Chester.

The Welsh international had become an after-thought following a unsettled season under Tony Pulis at West Bromwich Albion, making only fleeting appearances as a substitute.

After four years at with The Tigers - also under Bruce - amassing 156 games on Humberside, a reunion with his former manager is finally erasing memories of trickier times.

Chester, a former Manchester United youth player, has played all seven games during Steve Bruce's early tenure at Villa Park conceding just six times with regular centre-back partner Nathan Baker in defence.

West Brom manager Tony Pulis as James Chester prepares to take a throw inWest Brom manager Tony Pulis as James Chester prepares to take a throw in

The Warrington-born defender made an £8m switch to the West Midlands in July 2015 as reported by BBC Sport. With Chester's eye for goal in Pulis' bullish, aerial approach it was thought the versatility of the 27 year-old would pay dividends for West Brom.

Pulis is a stickler for work-rate however and instead opted to play Chris Brunt at left-back keep faith with Jonny Evans and Gareth McAuley in the heart of defence.

This left Chester scrambling for a place, playing just 12 times during the 2015/16 campaign - predominantly as a replacement.

Following a sterling campaign with Wales at Euro 2016, James Chester moved to Birmingham for a fee reported by the Daily Mail in the region of £9m. Having turned a new leaf, the defender and is showing the talent that The Red Devils initially saw in him.

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

Bruce has already spoken glowingly of his man, complimenting the toughness of Chester, who played through pain and a broken nose in Villa's 3-1 win over Cardiff last Saturday.

The relationship between player and manager is now playing huge dividends for Aston Villa. Albeit at a lower level, Chester could yet play an instrumental role in guiding The Villans in a return to the top flight, which both Steve Bruce and their fans will be dreaming of.

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